Short and Sweet Cherry Season
The cherry season comes in with abundance and seems to end quickly. Rumors are the 6-to-8-week local crop will be off to a good start by early May at the Orinda Farmers’ Market.
There are two main categories of cherries – sweet and sour. Local farmers’ markets offer an array of sweet cherries during the season. Bing cherries reign supreme, but look for early varieties like Brooks and Tulare to get a head start on this mouth-popping treat. Red, low acid Coral cherries, which arrive with the Bings mid-season, are also worth a try.
Golden, red blushed Royal Anns (Napoleons) and Rainiers are the “cherry of choice” for many who savor the delicate flavor and fine texture. Look for their arrival just after the Bing season begins. Because they are fragile and tend to bruise easily. They should be handled with care.
Sour cherries, a source of conversation, are not available at local markets. Michigan is the leading producer of sour cherries where this high-acid, tart cherry is prized in pies and preserves.
Cherries do not ripen or improve in flavor after harvest. The best cherries are plump, shiny, dry and quite firm with full color. Those with fresh green stems still attached are best quality and store the longest. To store cherries, place single layers of unwashed cherries between paper towels in a container, and cover and refrigerate them for up to four days if necessary. My guess is they’ll be gone before then!
Scientific research backs up all we’ve heard about the nutritional goodness of cherries. Here are a few of the facts:
The anti-inflammatory properties in cherries may help control arthritis and gout.
Cherries contain antioxidants, and studies show they may help reduce the risk of heart disease.
The anthocyanins found in cherries may help reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease.
Cherry sugars release more slowly and evenly than most, leaving you feeling fuller longer.
Cherries are a good source of potassium, which may help control blood pressure.
Cherries are one of those “healthy” snacks. A serving size of 21 cherries has less than 100 calories.
The California Cherry Board partnered with a scientific panel to produce over 10 years of research on cherry nutrition. See www.calcherry.com/nutrition.
The Orinda Farmers’ Market is open every Saturday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Orinda Way. More information is available at www.cccfm.org, facebook.com/OrindaFarmersMarket and Instagram at OrindaFarmersMarket or call the market hotline at 925.322.6228.
Barbara Kobsar can be reached at Barbara@cotkitchen.com.