It’s mid-July and cherries are at their sweetest! In addition to amazing prices on delicious Bing cherries from the Pacific Northwest, you’ll also find locally-grown cherries bursting with locally-grown-goodness from farms like the McMullin Family Orchards in Payson or Chavez Farms in Orem. While selection varies, you may even find the brightly colored and oh-so-sweet rainier among our local offerings while supplies last.
We know few things can top enjoying a perfectly ripe cherry in its peak season, but how about enjoying that same cherry while impressing your friends and family with your extensive knowledge of cherries? Read on to discover five interesting facts about cherries.
- Cherries are a good source of potassium, vitamin C, and fiber, but their real nutritional benefit of cherries are the many polyphenol antioxidants, like anthocyanin, quercetin, and hydroxycinnamates (write them on your hand for reference while sharing) they contain. These polyphenols have been linked to cardiovascular health specifically and may provide other benefits through their antioxidant effects. Tart cherry concentrates (like juices or supplements) have also been linked to improved recovery following strenuous exercise and improve sleep.
- Cherry pits were excavated from prehistoric caves, evidence that cherries have been a dietary staple for thousands of years. That makes cherries one of the sweetest paleo-friendly foods, perfect for replenishing muscle glycogen after the day’s CrossFit workout. (Insert inside joke about your most stereotypical paleo friend here).
- Almonds are more closely related to cherries than cashews and other nuts. Both almond and cherry trees are members of the Prunus genus which includes other popular stone fruit trees like the plum, peach, apricot and nectarine. While almonds are also a stone fruit (or drupe if you want to really show off that science vernacular) it’s the rebel of the group, with a tough mesocarp (instead of the sweet flesh of a cherry) and an edible endocarp (compared with the inedible cherry pit).
- While we’re talking pits (no, not the double-T Brad type, but yes we loved Mr. and Mrs. Smith too) as with the stone in most stone fruits, contains amygdalin, a compound that is converted into toxic cyanide in the body. Don’t panic! Swallowing a few pits won’t harm you. The pit is actually composed of two parts, an outer protective shell designed to pass through your digestive system intact and the inner seed where the amygdalin is found. But do avoid cracking open the shell of cherry pits and eating their seeds.
- Utah is the second largest producer of tart cherries and fifth largest producer of sweet cherries. While this was a primary contributor to Utah officially naming the cherry as the state fruit in 1997, another was the cherry trees surrounding the state capitol. A gift from the Japanese following World War II, the trees not only honor reconciliation and friendship following the war but are a symbol of the cycle of life, of death and the beautiful blossoming rebirth we enjoy each spring.