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Cherries are a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, and antioxidants such as anthocyanins. They also contain the soluble fibre pectin.
1/2 cup Sweet Cherries provides: 46 calories, 0.7 g protein, 0.1 g fat, 9.3 g sugar, 1.5 g fibre
1/2 cup Sour Cherries provides: 39 calories, 0.8 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 6.6 g sugar, 1.2 g fibre
1/4 cup Dried Cherries provides: 136 calories, 1 g protein, 0 g fat, 27 g sugar, 1 g fibre, 30% DV vitamin A.
1 Maraschino Cherry, canned, drained provides: 8 calories, 0 g protein, 0 g fat, 2 g sugar, 0.2 g fibre
1/2 cup Ontario Red Tart Chilled and Pitted Cherries provides: 63 calories, 0.7 g protein, 0.2 g fat, 15.7 g carbohydrates, 0.8 g dietary fibre.
Cherries come in two main types: sweet and sour or tart.
Sweet cherries are larger and heart-shaped. They can be enjoyed freshly picked and are also excellent cooked. They range in colour from golden, red-blushed (Royal Ann) to dark red or purplish black (Bing, Lambert and Tartarian).
Sour cherries are smaller, softer and more globular in shape than sweet cherries. Unlike sweet cherries, most sour varieties are too tart to eat raw, but they are excellent in pies and preserves. Varieties of sour cherries include Early Richmond (bright red; first to be available in late spring), Montmorency (bright red) and Morello (dark mahogany red).
Dried cherries are prepared from tart cherries, which may have sugar or other sweeteners added prior to drying.
Ontario chilled and pitted cherries are the Montmorency variety (tart), which are the best cheries for pies, sauces, tarts, jams and desserts. They are availble with 10% sugar added or no sugar added.
Marashino cherries can be made from any variety of cherry, but Royal Ann (sweet) is typically used. The cherries are pitted and soaked in a flavoured sugar syrup. These sugary cherries are used as garnish for desserts and cocktails, in baked goods and fruit salads.
Canned Cherries are red, tart, pitted cherries packed in water.
Fresh cherries are available from May (sweet) or June (sour) through August. Select fresh cherries that are brightly coloured, shiny and plump. Sweet cherries should be firm, but not hard; sour cherries should be medium-firm. You get more for your money (per gram weight) buying stemmed cherries, but those with the stems still on last longer.
You can also purchase chilled and pitted cherries. Ontario Tender Fruit Producers offers red tart and black sweet cherries chilled and pitted between mid-July and early August. Pre-ordering is recommended; retailers receive fresh product daily during this period. Pails of pitted cherries may not be stored where you can find them, so ask about chilled and pitted cherries at the Produce Department or Customer Service Desk.
Red Tart Cherries - Chilled and Pitted: available July 17 to August 5
Black Sweet Cherries - Chilled and Pitted: available July 10 to August 5 Participating Retailers: A&P; Comisso's; Dominion/Ultra; Food Basics; Foodland; Fortinos; Highland Farms; IGA; Knechtel; Loblaws; Loeb; Longo's; Price Chopper; Sobeys; The Barn; Valumart; Your Independent Grocer; Zehrs Markets.
Canned Cherries - choose undented cans that exhibit no bulging.
Unwashed cherries should be stored in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. To preserve cherries and use them later, select red, tree-ripened fruit. Remove the stems and rinse the fruit in cool water; remove pits, if desired. You can then freeze, can or dry the cherries.
Freezing cherries: Cherries can be frozen on a cookie sheet with the pit still in them. You can enjoy the cherries while they are still frozen, or package them in appropriate quantities for further use (e.g. 1/2 cup or 1 cup in a freezer baggie). If the cherries will be used for pies or other recipes, pit them first over the container you will be storing them in, to catch the juices. (A 9-inch pie will require 4 to 5 cups of pitted tart cherries.) To preserve the red colour of tart cherries, they should be frozen shortly after they are picked/bought, in freezer containers with a sprinkling of granulated sugar. Frozen cherries will keep for 8 to 10 months.
Canning cherries: To can cherries, it is best to follow a recipe from a canning book such as Ball or Kerr - check out www.homecanning.com
Drying cherries: If you dry your own fresh tart cherries, don't expect the same results as commercially dried tart cherries. As with other fruits dehydrated at home, the results can be significantly different. Dehydrate for 24 to 36 hours, pits removed.
For more information on preserving cherries, visit www.homefoodpreservation.com
Chilled and pitted cherries can be frozen in their pails or packaged in small containers or freezer bags in desired proportions.
Fresh sweet cherries need only be rinsed and enjoyed. Tart or sour cherries are typically used to make pies, jellies, jams, sauces, stewed fruit and the like.
Pitting cherries You may have heard that you can remove cherry pits with paper clips, a vegetable peeler or a knife. However, the best pitters are ones made especially for the job. Click here to see a hand-held "cherry stoner". Hand-held pitters work well on a small batch of cherries. However, if you need to pit large numbers of cherries, it is best to invest in a large cherry pitter, such as this one. Cherry pitters/stoners are available at specialty food stores or through the Internet.
Chilled and pitted cherries: To use cherries frozen in the pail, remove the pail from the freezer and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Scoop out the desired amount of cherries and return the pail to the freezer.
Cherries can be incorporated into any meal of the day.
Healthy Ways to Enjoy Cherries:
Did You Know?
Cherries are such a treat. Most months of the year, you can find imported cherries among your grocer's produce offerings, but they are often exhorbitantly priced and their freshness and taste just don't match locally grown.
Cherries are in season locally for such a seemingly short period, that cherry lovers anticipate this time of year with great excitement. Such cherry addicts can be found about this time of year with red fingers and discarded pits and stems strewn about them, a satisfied look on their faces.
Here's a decadent recipe that was published in the Toronto Star in May 2008 and is an unusual…
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