Red, juicy, refreshing : they are cherries , classic fruits associated with the summer . If it is true that one leads to the other, it is also true that not many know their great beneficial properties . Here is everything you need to know about cherries: varieties, health benefits and uses in the kitchen.
How cherries are made
The cherry is a drupe , a fruit the size of 1-2 cm in diameter, but also larger in some varieties. It is composed of a thin external membranous layer normally light or dark red (epicarp), an intermediate fleshy layer (mesocarp) and an internal part called core (endocarp) which lignifies, thus preserving the seed. It is a delicious fruit with a taste that depending on the variety can be from sweet to bitter and astringent .
Cherries ripen between the end of May and the end of July . They are produced from cherry, a tree belonging to the Rosaceae family , subfamily of thePrunoideae , genus Prunus .
Of the cherry tree includes two subspecies :
- The Prunus avium L. , said sweet cherry , is widespread in Italy. It is the subspecies from which all the cultivated varieties originated , which are divided into: Tenerine , those which have tender and juicy fruit, generally dark red in color; Duracine (or duroni ), with larger fruits and firm flesh, dark red or black with red flesh, or light red with yellowish or pink flesh.
- the Prunus cerasus L. (amarena), called sour cherry , more bushy, more widespread in Northern Europe and characterized by three varieties that produce fruits similar to those of the cherry ( Prunus avium ) but of different color and different acidity, namely: Amareno (the most common variety), Visciolo and Marasco or S. Lucia cherry.
History of cherries
The origin of the cherry tree was placed in the area between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea . This is a very uncertain geolocation since in prehistoric times these fruits were already fed in various other European and Asian areas, probably thanks to the spreading work offered by birds.
The cultivation of the plant is certainly very ancient . From Asia Minor it spread to Egypt as early as the seventh century BC . and, subsequently, it extended to Greece , as the philosopher and botanist Theophrastus testifies to us in the III century BC. The arrival of the cherry tree in Italy is traditionally linked to what Pliny the Elder narrated in his chronicles. Its migration from Asia to Rome is preserved in the Latin term “cerasus”, which derives from the Greek κέρασος (kérasos) which in turn derives from the city of Giresos, in Turkey, the place of origin of the imported trees.
Since then, cherry has gradually expanded throughout Europe, delighting the rich Renaissance tables. Since the 16th century, more precise news of their cultivation has been handed down to us. In the following century it was Louis XIV of Bourbon, the Sun King , who gave a strong impulse to cultivation by installing large orchards in Versailles used for the cultivation of fruit for the table and botanical gardens for studies.
Cherry cultivation currently affects many states around the world. Italy represents one of the main European cherry producers with over 150 varieties , derived from sweet cherry.
For 100 grams of product , cherries provide you with 86.2 grams of water , 0.8 grams of protein , 0.1 grams of lipids , 1.3 grams of fiber and 38 calories.
Chemical composition of cherries per 100 g of edible part.
Description Nutrient Value per 100 g
Water (g) 86.2
Energy (kcal) 48
Protein (g) 0.8
Lipids (g) 0.1
Available carbohydrates (g) 11.0
Soluble sugars (g) 11
Total fiber (g) 1.3
Soluble fiber (g) 00:49
Insoluble fiber (g) 0.8
Description Nutrient Value for r 100 g
Sodium (mg) 3
Potassium (mg) 229
Calcium (mg) 30
Phosphorus (mg) 18
Iron (mg) 0.6
Description Nutrient Value per 100 g
Thiamine (mg) 00:03
Riboflavin (mg) 00:03
Niacin (mg) 0.5
Vitamin C (mg) 11
Folic acid (μg) 7
Vitamin A equivalent retinol (μg) 19
(Data source: Food Composition Database for Epidemiological Studies
Cherries are characterized by a reduced level of calories and high water content , as well as by the richness of bioactive compounds . The sweet taste and small size, however, can become a double-edged sword, which can transform this product into a subtle source of sugar in excess of the needs . With a little foresight for the portions, the intake of cherries ensures beneficial health effects.
Cherries have many properties . Here are the main benefits that regular consumption of cherries can give you.
- They help your intestines . Cherries contain a good amount of fiber , which increase the sense of satiety and ward off hunger attacks . So they are an ideal fruit as a hungerbreaker . In addition, the fibers help your intestines function better , preventing diseases of the rectum and colon.
- Purifying and detoxifying. Cherries have purifying, diuretic and slightly laxative properties . They are useful in case of abdominal bloating and constipation . In addition, cherries contain malic acid , a substance capable of stimulating the activity of the liver, detoxifying it.
- Antioxidant and anti-cholesterol activity . Cherries are rich in antioxidants , in particular anthocyanins , phenolic compounds concentrated in the peel, responsible for the red color of these fruits. These act as anti-inflammatory drugs , preventing a number of diseases such as cardiovascular diseases and slowing down premature aging . In addition, thanks to antioxidants, eating cherries reduces the percentage of cholesterol in the blood.
- They help you keep weight and high blood sugar at bay. A study published in Clear Medicine has shown that cherries are able to reduce the concentration of fat in the blood and blood sugar, thus preventing diabetes.
- Anticancer activity. A study published by the American Institute for Cancer Research shows how cherries have great ability to prevent diseases such as cancers . This is always due to anthocyanins, which combine with hydroxycinnamic acid and perilyl alcohol, creating a mix capable of protecting against the risk of developing these pathologies.
- Beauty and health of the skin . Thanks to the presence of flavonoids , in combination with vitamins A and C , cherries stimulate collagen production , which helps the good health of your skin .
Cherries have no particular contraindications and can be consumed by anyone except in cases of intolerance or allergy. They are mildly laxative , due to the good fiber content , for this reason it is advisable to eat them without abusing in quantity so as not to risk suffering from annoying stomach pains and diarrhea. Those suffering from intestinal disorders or irritable bowel syndrome should limit their consumption.
Factor to consider if you have low blood pressure is that cherries have a hypotensive effect. They also contain a certain amount of natural melatonin which promotes sleepiness.
Cherries: how to choose and eat them
It is important that the cherries are at the right degree of ripeness in order to enjoy their sweetness and all the nutritional potential. If they are not, it is useless to wait for them to ripen on their own , because, unlike other fruit, cherries do not do it once they have left the plant.
Cherries can vary in size, shape, color intensity and consistency in relation to the variety. Generally speaking, when you buy, they must have a bright and uniform color , while the size and shape must be homogeneous . They must be firm and never too soft to the touch , they must not show traces of mold, dents or cracks. An excellent detector of freshness is the peduncle, which must not be dry or shriveled, but still present green.
As a rule, cherries should only be washed immediately before they are consumed . They must not remain in contact with water or in humid situations for a long time because they easily develop mold and rot. For this reason, it is preferable to keep them in a cool and slightly damp place , better in a paper bag that absorbs humidity rather than in plastic. They can be left in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days , as long as the temperature is not too cold because these fruits are very sensitive. In addition, it is best to keep the cherries separate from aromatic foods such as onions and garlic, as these fruits can absorb their smells.
A tip to taste cherries longer in time is to freeze them and then use them instead of ice cubes to refresh summer drinks. They will fulfill the purpose and provide a tasty happy ending to your drink.
Alternative uses of cherries
The cherries are a versatile , useful for skin beauty : they have tonic, astringent and anti-aging . They are therefore suitable for different purposes: in the case of dull and gray skin , if you have inflamed skin , but also if you have acne-prone skin, tending to fat.
- In the first case , you can simply mash the pulp of some cherries , preferably organic , and spread it on the face for 15-20 minutes . Then rinse with warm water and apply the moisturizer.
- For an anti-aging effect and to degrease the skin a little, you can add honey to the pulp , mixing everything and spreading the mixture for 20 minutes. If you want more hydration instead, you need to add a spoonful of yogurt.
- Finally, to have a light scrub effect , you can mix the cherry pulp with the brown sugar crushed in a mortar and then massage the skin for a few minutes. When finished, rinse and don’t forget to put a good moisturizer.
In case of sensitive or allergic skin, ask your doctor or beautician for advice first.
Cherries in the kitchen
Cherries are delicious if eaten fresh, alone or in fruit salad , but they also lend themselves to many elaborations, especially for pastry . There are, however, some recipes that feature them in savory dishes such as, for example, in sauce to accompany and attenuate the strong game flavors.
As for the use in sweet preparations, it is possible to make jams, syrups, ice creams and insert them in cakes and pies, puddings and yogurt : you are spoiled for choice. In addition, cherries can be used for mustards, in syrup, candied or dried. Various alcoholic drinks (wines, spirits and liqueurs) are also obtained from cherries , such as the sour cherry wine.
The recipes with cherries
Here are two recipes with cherries ideal for summer . Light and thirst-quenching , they are two drinks to use to refresh you and to break hunger in the middle of the morning, or mid-afternoon.
1 – Chia seed and fresh fruit smoothie
The chia seed and fruit smoothie offers you a combination that in addition to being trendy is also a bomb of vitamins and minerals.
The chia seed smoothie is an excellent alternative for your breakfast and snack, when you want a fresh and nutritious drink.
This recipe is prepared with oat milk . It is therefore also suitable for people who are lactose intolerant or who simply prefer to consume a vegetable drink instead of cow’s milk.
Total calories: 475 kcal / calories per person: 237 kcal
Ingredients for two people:
100 g of cherries
150 g of strawberries
50 g of berries (blueberries and raspberries)
300 g of oat milk (or cow’s milk)
2 tablespoons of chia seeds
1 tablespoon honey or agave syrup
10 g of blueberries
2 of raspberries
Wash all the fruit and dry them and pitted the cherries. Blend the cherries, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries together with the milk and honey or agave syrup, until a smooth and fluid mixture is obtained. Spread the two tablespoons of chia seeds in two glasses or glass jars, fill them with a few tablespoons of smoothie, mix thoroughly, pour the remaining smoothie into the glasses and mix again, leave to thicken for 5 minutes.
Serve by decorating the smoothies with some fruit.
2 – White iced tea with cherries and lemon
The white tea with cherry and lemon is tasty idea if you want to prepare at home and try your iced tea mixes and matches different from the more classic.
The fruit, left to macerate, will give your tea an unmistakable aroma and natural sweetness. So you will not need to add sugar and you can sip your flavored iced tea without risk to the line, to quench your thirst and get your fill of benefits.
Total calories: 78 kcal
Ingredients for a liter of water:
15-20 g of white tea
200 g of Vignola cherries
Find out how to make white iced tea with cherries and lemon !