Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!
Nutritional and Other Information
About Cherries from
the Barren County Farmers' Market

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

Sour or pie cherries are best known for their role in desserts. They are also well known in jams and jellies. Pie cherries are seldom sold fresh in your local grocery store, to get them fresh you will have to depend on your local farmers' market or Pick Your Own farms. They are harvested in July and usually frozen, canned, or dried for use throughout the year.

The Montmorency cherry is the most popular and familiar of the sour cherry varieties in the U.S. and Canada providing 95% or more of the sour cherries on the market. They are harvested in July and are light to dark red. This cherry has been cultivated in the United States for more than a century.

Sweet cherries are primarily grown in the Pacific Coast States, but Michigan is in the top four of the nation's producers. Michigan cherry growers harvest about 20 percent of the nation's sweet cherry crop each year.

Sweet cherry varieties grown include Emperor Francis, Napoleon and Schmidt, and most of Michigan's sweet cherries are processed, many of them being used for maraschino cherries.

Both tart cherries and sweet cherries ripen in July, and peak harvest time is usually the third week of July. Most tart cherries are mechanically harvested, using a shaker to drop the fruit onto canvasses where they are placed in tanks of water. Sweet cherries that are to be marketed fresh are picked by hand.

Eat 5 A Day for Good Health!

For centuries, the cherry, either as bark, root or fruit, has been a source of medicine for indigenous peoples. Native Americans prized cherries as pain relievers, especially for sore throats. Wild cherry bark has been used for a long time in cough syrups.

According to ongoing research today, Montmorency tart cherries are a rich source of antioxidants, which can help fight cancer and heart disease. In addition, there are beneficial compounds in them that help relieve the pain of arthritis and gout. Some people claim that it cures headaches and others say it helps them sleep better.

Selecting a quality product

Never buy cherries if they seem to be very soft, flabby, or sticky on the outside. They should look clean and dry. When cherries go bad, they start to loose color, develop a brownish color, and leak. Once a cherry starts leaking - or goes bad - it can quickly make the whole box go bad. One bad apple isn't the only fruit that takes others with it when it goes.

Cherries won't ripen or improve in flavor after they're picked. They must be picked ripe, and then they'll last only a couple of days, so harvesting time is critical. A ripe cherry is heavier in the hand, meatier, sweeter, and juicier than an immature cherry. Picked too soon, cherries are pale and tasteless; too ripe, they're soft and watery. The best time to pick seems to be right before the birds start eating them - birds have an uncanny instinct for ripe cherries.

Tips on Storage

Put fresh cherries in a plastic bag and refrigerate immediately. Eat them within 3 days. Canned cherries will keep for one year unopened in a cool, dark cupboard. After opening the can, transfer the cherries to a covered glass, plastic or ceramic container and refrigerate for up to 1 week.

Tips on preparing

Cherries have pits and, if you don't buy them already pitted you can plan on pitting them yourself. There are chery pitters on the market and there is the old fashioned way of cutting them open and taking them out. It is up to you how you prefer to pit them but you need to be aware that you will have to do this.


Nilla Cherry Pudding

2 (4-serving size) packages instant French Vanilla pudding and pie filling
4 1/2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
43 Nilla Wafers
2 1/2 cups sweet cherries, pitted and halved
2 cups prepared whipped topping
Additional Nilla Wafers and sweet cherries, for garnish

Prepare pudding according to package directions using milk and almond extract.

Spoon 1/2 cup pudding in bottom of 2-quart serving bowl. Top with 8 wafers, a generous layer of cherries and 2/3 cup pudding. Stand 10 wafers around outside edge of dish. Continue layering 11 wafers, cherries, 2/3 cup pudding, 14 wafers, cherries and remaining pudding.

Cover, refrigerate 3 hours or overnight. To serve, spread whipped topping over pudding; garnish with additional wafers and cherries if desired. Makes 8 servings.

Cherry Clafoutis

This traditional French dessert is very similar to our American Cobbler. Itís usually made with pears or cherries.

6 to 8 servings

1 1/2 pounds ripe, sweet cherries
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
3 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 additional tablespoon of sugar for a topping

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Butter a 10 x 1-3/8-inch quiche or pie pan.

Wash, dry and pit the cherries. Arrange them in the bottom of the prepared pan. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons sugar.

Process the flour, salt, baking powder, the remaining sugar, eggs and milk in a food processor fitted with the metal blade until smooth, about 15 seconds, scraping down the work bowl frequently.

Pour the mixture over the cherries. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake in the center of a preheated oven for 15 minutes, then lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Continue baking until the clafoutis is golden brown and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 30 minutes more. Remove from the oven to a wire rack to cool. The clafoutis will sink slightly as it cools. Serve warm or at room temperature. Top with ice cream if you wish.

Cherry-Coconut Bars

1 cup flour
1/2 cup butter
3 tbsp confectioner's sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3/4 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup coconut
1/2 cup maraschino cherries, quartered

Preheat oven to 350F. With hands, mix flour, butter and confectioner's sugar until smooth. Spread thin, using fingers in an 8" pan. bake about 25 minutes. Stir rest of ingredients into eggs. Spread over top of baked pastry (does not need to cool). Bake about 25 minutes. Cool, cut into bars.

Blue Cheese Dip With Dried Tart Cherries

1 clove garlic; crushed
3 tbsp minced chives or onions
1/4 cup finely minced parsley
2 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup crumbled blue cheese
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup chopped dried cherries

Serve with red and yellow peppers, endive, celery, zucchini and blanched sugar snap peas and broccoli.

In a medium bowl, combine all ingredients but cherries, stir to mix well. Cover and chill to blend flavors, 3 hours or longer. Just before serving blend in cherries. Yield: 2 1/2 cups dip.

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