Have you ever stained your lips and the fingers with this summertime treat? Every stain is worth the taste of this sharp, sweet, fleshy yet juicy fruit. Their glossy skin ranges from garnet to almost black. These bite sized rounds contain a single stone or pit, which is grown as one of three types: sweet, sour or wild.
Ralph’s main cherry is the Van Cherry. It is the first cherry of the season. It is bursting with flavour. They are crunchy and firm. In our opinion, the van cherry is the best cherry. It has a good taste, stands up well and easy to grow (which brings the cost down).
The Bing Cherry used to be the number one choice, but not anymore. They do not stand up and are often soft. In fact, Okanagan Farms are ripping out their Bing Cherry trees and replacing them with the newer varieties that stand up better.
Lamberts are tasty red-mahogany, sweet Bing-like cherries but they aren’t as sweet as the Bing. They are notably different from all other cherries because of their size; they are a large cherry. They have a short season, only about a one week, so they are hard to find but worth the search and the wait.
Lapin and Sweetheart Cherries
The Lapin and Sweetheart Cherries are a fairly new cherry that are ready later in the season. They were developed to withstand the rain which splits the fruit. They are also very firm, crunchy and stand up very well. They are ready later in the cherry season. The price of later cherries is more expensive because it is later in the season and their availability isn’t as plentiful.
Although Ralph’s does not carry Sour Cherries, there is a farmer in Aldergrove, BC who has an orchard. We recommend going directly to the farm, since the Sour variety does not keep at all. They need to be picked and dealt with the same day. Most sour cherries are canned and sold for pie fillings. They are also used for juices and juice concentrate. They are smaller and have a bright red color when fresh.
Cherries are only available for three months during the summer (end of May to early August). When summer rolls around, enjoy fresh cherries!
Avoid lighter red colours since cherries do not ripen after picking. That is, the darker the cherries are the ripest. This fruit should be unblemished, firm and plump. An attached stem is a better choice to keep bacteria from infesting the fruit, as well as having the opportunity to check for a fresh or aging, brown stem. Avoid cherries with wrinkled skin or white spots since that’s another indicator of mould.
Sweet cherries are commonly the only ones available fresh in the market. Beware of wax that can give a false shiny appearance. In red varieties, such as the Van, look for similar characteristics but with a dark burgundy colour.
Select ones that are a good size with rich colour and a glossy exterior.
For a longer fridge-life, pick unblemished, sweet, plump, firm fruit with fresh stems and unbroken skin.
Cherries can be kept at room temperature they require ripening or will be eaten immediately. In general, however, they are quite temperature sensitive so refrigeration is ideal. Store them unwashed loosely and preferably in a single layer to prevent bruising and allow air circulation. Place them in a perforated plastic bag in the vegetable compartment of the fridge or on a paper towel in a shallow pan. Cherries are perishable and you should plan to use them soon after purchase. Don’t worry; your family will be raiding the fridge!
Freeze: Did you know you can freeze cherries for a year? Save them by pitting them, placing them as single layers in an airtight bag, and storing in the freezer
The possibilities are endless! Be creative, since there are lots of ways to get cherries into your diet. Use them as garnish, add them to baked goods or make a savory meal with them, add them to your salad or sauté them for dessert. Ofcourse, you’ll never go wrong eating them as a snack or dessert.
Quick & Easy Ideas
- Cherries are delicious eaten fresh, and in cobblers, turnovers, pies, and fruitcake. Use them to make jams, compotes, and sorbets, or add to ice cream, yogurt, and puddings. Great for jam because of all their natural pectin!
- Dessert Pizza: Brush a store-bought thin pizza crust with oil. Bake until golden. Spread with cream cheese and top with pitted cherries and sliced peaches. Sprinkle with brown sugar.
- They can be candied, dried, cooked, preserved, or macerated in alcohol. Dry sour cherries make a good addition when cooking hot cereal. Chocolate-covered cherries are a favourite, and candied cherries are prepared for Black Forest cake. Cherries are also used to make kirsch and other liqueurs. After pitting, cook them briefly so they retain their shape and texture, as well as enhance the flavour. Try poaching them in wine, cinnamon, and water and serve it on top of vanilla ice cream!
- Or sauté them with butter and sugar and top pancakes, use as a crepe filling, or eat with yogurt or ice cream.
- Drink cherry juice, add the juice to smoothies, yogurt, pancake or cake batter.
- Spear pitted cherries and cubes of havarti cheese onto toothpicks, alternating between the two for contrast.
Apparently a 90-calorie cup of cherries has more antioxidants than a small piece of dark chocolate or 3 ounces of almonds. Low in calories and is high in antioxidants, anthocyanin (like blueberries), Vitamin C, Beta-Carotene, B Complex and minerals as well as being a good source of Potassium and Boron. Boron works with calcium and magnesium for stronger bones. They contain pectin, which is a soluble fiber that helps control blood cholesterol levels. Cherries are full of antioxidants that help fight cancer, heart disease and inflammation.!
Cherries (with pits) (sweet, raw), 1 cup (117g)
Total Fat: 1.12g
*Excellent source of: Vitamin C (8.2mg)
*Foods that are an “excellent source” of a particular nutrient provide 20% or more of the Recommended Daily Value. Foods that are a “good source” of a particular nutrient provide between 10 and 20% of the Recommended Daily Value.
- In years past, cherries were graded by counting how many rows would pack into the wooden shipping boxes. Nine rows of cherries indicated a “nine-row” cherry, which was a good-sized cherry, while 12 rows were considered a lesser grade. Although today’s growers don’t use the same packing method, the grading system is still by their nostalgic row size.
- Cherry trees normally have 7000 cherries, enough to make 28 pies!
- The Bing Cherry was named after one of the Chinese workmen on a farm in the state of Oregon in the 1800s.
- Cherries contain compounds that can even relieve headaches. Twenty cherries are ten times stronger than aspirin.