Botanically belonging to the Prunus genus, cherry fruit is believed to have been around since prehistoric times. Cherry trees originated in the area between the Black and the Caspian seas and their name is derived from the Turkish town of Cerasus. You get both sweet (P. avium) and sour cherries (P. cerasus) – sour cherries are commonly used in cooking.
Cherry trees produce marvellous white blossoms during the spring that is a sight to behold. This gives way to the red fruits during the summer months. The shade of red will vary depending on the variety but they range from bright shiny red to a deep maroon.
Considered a stone fruit, cherries are usually heart-shaped or circular, averaging a size of 1 inch in diameter. Cherry trees grow very successfully in the UK and 2021 saw a very productive year for this particular fruit.
What is Cherry Fruit?
Cherries are a small stone fruit, red in colour, with either a brown or green stem attached. Some varieties of cherries will be an impressive glossy red while others will appear almost black.
It is believed that birds could have brought cherries over to Europe from their native Asia Minor and the Caucasus Mountains. Some believe the Roman soldiers introduced them to Europe when they were a part of their rations. Soldiers would discard the pits once eaten and they grew from there.
The flesh of cherries can range from soft to firm, sweet to tart – again dependent on the variety. Some cherry trees do not produce fruit at all and are grown for their ornamental appearances. Sour cherries contain higher levels of acidity and are used for cooking.
5 Interesting Cherry Facts:
- Cherries have been cultivated before history records began.
- Cherries have more than 1,000 varieties worldwide.
- A single cherry tree can produce 7,000 cherries and this is why a mechanical shaker is often used for the harvesting process.
- Turkey remains the country with the biggest production of cherries – they have the perfect climate for them.
- Cherry trees, in the right conditions, can live up to 100 years old.
What Do Cherries Taste Like?
Sweet cherries have smooth skin that are quite taut and thin, giving way to a soft flesh underneath. They have a pleasant taste and are often described as having hints of almond to their flavour.
Sour cherries are much more tart and need to be cooked before they are palatable.
Popular Ways to Eat Cherries?
How you eat cherries will largely depend on the type you grow or buy. Sweet cherries are refreshing and juicy eaten fresh.
They can be added to fruit salads, smoothies, or cereals and will make a nice snack entirely on their own. To enjoy sour cherries, they are best cooked in pies or cakes and enjoyed that way.
Cherry jam is a great way of using up a glut of cherries and lasts a long time once it has been made.
All About Cherries
- Scientific Name: For sweet it is Prunus Avium and for sour, Prunus Cerasus.
- Fruit Family: Rosaceae.
- Related to: Almonds, apricots, nectarines, peaches, and plums.
How to Grow Cherries
Easily one of the most decorative fruit trees, a cherry specimen will brighten up any garden space. Many people believe they cannot grow cherry trees due to their sheer size.
Whilst it is true they can grow big, you can opt for much smaller varieties such as the patio cherry tree. They are fairly hardy as well which means they can withstand the UK weather fairly well.
Your cherry tree should ideally be planted out between November and March, during the dormant season. Some types can be fan trained against a wall or fence or you could pot your variety if it is grafted onto a dwarfing rootstock. Pay attention to whether or not your chosen type is self-fertile as this is important if you hope to grow cherries in your garden.
They do well in deep, fertile soil with plenty of sun and shelter from the wind. Unlike some fruit tree varieties, cherry trees will tolerate some shade so it is possible to grow them in a north-facing direction. If you intend to grow cherries it’s important to ensure you do not pick an ornamental variety.
Harvesting Cherry Fruit
After admiring the spring blossom, you can enjoy watching the cherries develop on your tree. Cherries have a short growing season and can be harvested during the summer – between June and August.
Even patio cherry trees can have an abundance of cherries so you may well end up with a lovely glut. Leave the cherries on the tree for as long as possible to achieve a sweeter-tasting fruit. The colour of the cherries will be fully developed when it is time to pick them for consumption.
How to Eat Cherries
To eat sweet cherries fresh, you can serve either with the stone intact or you can pit them first. To pit cherries, simply use a knife to make a small cut in the cherry and then remove the stone.
Cherries make a great topping for cereal, yoghurt or ice cream. Sweet cherries are a nice addition to savoury salads as well and go well with goat’s cheese.
Sour cherries, once cooked, can be very palatable and make a tasty filling to a pie or crumble pudding. You can make jam or chutney using sour cherries and they make a lovely sauce to compliment meats such as pork.
You can also freeze your cherries until you decide how best to use them. Freezing cherries helps preserve them, meaning they can be enjoyed throughout the year.
What Fruit Goes well with Cherries?
Plums, blueberries, blackberries, apricots, lemon, and oranges all go well with cherries. If you are using sour cherries then you may want to balance the tartness out with sweeter fruit.
Cherry smoothies combined with fruits such as pineapple, peaches, and blueberries will make a great-tasting drink.
Both sweet and sour cherries have wonderful nutrients in them, making them an important part of a healthy diet. These low calorie snacks can stop you from reaching for less nutritional and much fattier foods.
- Vitamins C, K & A
- Vitamin B
Cherries provide your body with the nutrients it so desperately needs for optimal health. Boosting your health and immune system by eating cherries is a tasty and beneficial way to keep yourself well.
How Many Calories in Cherries?
100g of sweet cherries contains 50 calories which contain 16g of carbohydrates and 1.1g of protein.
Cherry Health Benefits
Sweet and sour cherries are packed full of goodness and can boost your overall health and immune system. But exactly what vitamins and nutrients are in them, and what health benefits can you get from including cherries in your diet?
In cherries, you will find important sources of protein and fibre, essential vitamins and other nutrients such as potassium which are also vital. Cherries help to promote a healthy digestive system, making you less susceptible to problems.
Packed With Antioxidants
Health-boosting antioxidants can be found in all varieties of cherries and can help with problems such as heart disease, inflammation and diabetes. Cherries contain a lot of good that ultimately can help reduce the symptoms of chronic disease.
Reduces Muscle Pain
Due to their anti-inflammatory properties, cherries can help with inflammation through illness or exercise. Cherry powders and drinks are used by athletes due to their healing properties.
Helps With Arthritis And Gout
Cherries are said to help decrease the levels of uric acid in your body which can help with illnesses such as gout. Cherries can also assist with the symptoms of arthritis for the same reason.
Promote Healthy Sleeping Habits
How many of us can actually say we have a good sleeping routine? Life gets in the way of good intentions sometimes so it’s important to do all you can to sleep well. Cherries contain high levels of plant compounds that aid with sleep and they also contain melatonin.
Cherry Fruit FAQ’s
The PH of cherries sits between 3 and 4, meaning cherries are acidic fruit. Cherry juice, in particular, can aggravate conditions such as acid reflux. Sweet varieties of cherries are generally less acidic and may be a better option.
Cherries have a pit in their centre and are therefore classed as stone fruit. Another word for this is a drupe and it includes other fruits such as peaches, plums, apricots, and nectarines. Any fruit that has a single seed (stone) in the middle is classified as stone fruit.
Cherries are not a low sugar fruit so you certainly need to limit how many you consume regularly. They do contain many health benefits and when eaten in moderation do provide your body with a boost. Sour cherries have less sugar than the sweet variety but are not so palatable as an individual snack.