Sweet or tart, fresh or frozen, cherries can brighten your plate and palate during the short, dark winter days. These red gems also boast valuable nutrients and cancer prevention in their tiny packages.
Americans pay particular attention to this cheerful fruit during the month of February – whether serving up a red-themed Valentine's day meal or retelling the story of young George Washington and the demise of one small cherry tree.
Cherries are packed with vitamins A and C, potassium and fiber, with only about 70-90 calories per cup (sweet cherries have a few more calories). Except for vitamin C, nutrients in frozen and canned cherries are nearly nutritionally equivalent to fresh.
Their rich red color comes from anthocyanins, a group of phytochemicals that lab research shows slow cancer cell growth and stimulate their self-destruction. Another phytochemical in cherries, perillyl alcohol, has similar effects and it may also act to disable carcinogens.
In the United States, cherries are in season from May through August. So this time of year your best bet is the freezer aisle for bags of unsweetened tart or sweet cherries. You can also find cherries canned in light syrup or water, or try dried cherries for more intense flavoring. All can be used in baking, cooking or in a mixed fruit salad.
From salads to desserts, here are ways cherries can add color and flavor to your meals:
For more cancer-fighting recipes, visit the AICR Test Kitchen.