Red tart cherries, also called dwarf cherries, are a delicious stone fruit that are native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. In contrast to sweet cherries (wild cherries), tart cherries are famous for their classic tart flavor.
Tart cherries are a good source of several minerals, folic acid, and the substance melatonin. The latter is a natural hormone that plays a role in regulating our circadian rhythms and sleep. The Montmorency cherry is the most popular type of tart cherry and the variety that is most commonly used for baking, for example, in Black Forest Cake.
Thanks to their fruity, tart flavor, tart cherries are not normally eaten on their own. Instead, they are used to make everything from jam and marmalade to cherry pies and liqueurs. However, fresh tart cherries and freshly squeezed cherry juice have a lot of health benefits.
From Wikipedia: Dried sour cherries are used in cooking including soups, pork dishes, cakes, tarts, and pies. Sour cherries or sour cherry syrup are used in liqueurs and drinks. In Turkey, Greece and Cyprus, sour cherries are especially prized for making spoon sweets by slowly boiling pitted sour cherries and sugar; the syrup thereof is used for vişne şurubu or vyssináda, a beverage made by diluting the syrup with ice-cold water. A particular use of sour cherries is in the production of kriek lambic, a cherry-flavored variety of a naturally fermented beer made in Belgium.1
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Purchasing organic cherries:
Present regulations for conventional fruit cultivation stipulate that cherries may only be sold commercially if they do not exceed a maximum maggot infestation rate of 2 %. As a result of this stipulation, the use of pesticides is often unavoidable. The Western cherry fruit fly (Rhagoletis cerasi) is the greatest threat to cherry crops. The larvae of these cherry maggots develop in the fruit of sweet cherries (Prunus avium), tart cherries (Prunus cerasus), honeysuckle (Lonicera), snowberries (Symphoricarpos), and bird cherries (Prunus).
The pesticides used to fight cherry maggots usually have harmful effects on the environment and can also leave small amounts of residue on the cherries. In contrast to conventional agriculture, organic farming uses environmentally friendly methods (fine netting and pest control nematodes), and in this way you as a consumer are protecting the environment and yourself from possible pesticide residues.
The nutritional benefits of tart cherries are in large part on account of the phenolic substances they contain. ... The following gives an overview of the positive health effects of plant polyphenols:
- Antioxidant effects (scavenger for free radicals and aggressive oxygen radicals), reduces the carcinogenic effects of nitrous compounds, antihistamine effects, reduces the ability of carcinogenic substances to cause mutations, protects blood vessels, and supports the effect of vitamin C.
- Reiter and Tan5 showed that tart cherries contain significant levels of melatonin. Melatonin regulates our sleep-wake cycle. The hormone is produced from serotonin in the pineal gland — a small endocrine gland in the vertebrate brain. Taking melatonin is a natural method for improving sleep. As we age, the production of melatonin in our body decreases. Researchers correctly hypothesized that even eating small amounts of cherries can increase the melatonin levels in our blood (Brown, 2001).5
Prunus cerasus (sour cherry, tart cherry, or dwarf cherry) is a species of Prunus in the subgenus Cerasus (cherries), native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. It is closely related to the sweet cherry (Prunus avium), but has a fruit that is more acidic.
The tree is smaller than the sweet cherry (growing to a height of 4–10 m), has twiggy branches, and its crimson-to-near-black cherries are borne upon shorter stalks. There are several varieties of the sour cherry: the dark-red morello cherry and the lighter-red varieties including the amarelle cherry, and the popular Montmorency cherry. The Montmorency cherry is the most popular type of sour cherry. The reason for its popularity is its use in baking and recipe creation, including cherry pies, cherry desserts and other cherry-based recipes.1
Tart cherries are a highly sought after nectar source in beekeeping because of the high sugar content of their nectar (9.7–15 %) and blossoms (up to 1.31 mg sugar per day and blossom.2
Literature / Sources:
- Wikipedia. Prunus cerasus [Internet]. Version dated April 2, 2018 [Cited May 16, 2018]. Available from: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prunus_cerasus
- Wikipedia. Sauerkirsche [Internet]. Version dated May 15, 2018 [Cited May 16, 2018]. Available from: wikipedia.org/wiki/Sauerkirsche
- Herrmann, K. Inhaltsstoffe von Obst und Gemüse (Nutritional information for fruits and vegetables). Verlag Eugen Ulmer, 2001, Stuttgart. pp. 26–27
- Will, F., Hilsendegen, P., Bonerz, D., Patz, C.-D., Dietrich, H. (2005) Analytical composition of fruit juices from different sour cherry cultivars. Journal of Applied Botany and Food Quality 79. pp. 12–16
- Brown, G. Researcher says tart cherries rich in melatonin. The Fruit Growers News, February 2001, Volume 40., Issue 2. p. 40