Do you think of a cherry just as a beautiful red topping to your favorite sundae? The cherry is much more than a decorative touch, it is a fruit. A very tasty fruit. Recently we have heard of the many health benefits such as the antioxidant value and the anti-inflammatory properties related to anthocyanins found in the cherry's red pigment color. However, in addition to the health benefits, cherries are produced worldwide resulting in an extraordinary commercial market you may not even have thought about. With such an impact on health and commerce, let's look a little closer at this small but very powerful fruit known as the cherry.
What is cherry fruit?
The technical name is Prunus avium. The name "cherry" may also refer to many other plants within the Prunus family, either singly or collectively, such as plums, apricots, and peaches. Cherry fruit is a soft round fruit with a small stone in the center. They are a dark deep ruby red or almost black color when ripe. Cherries must be picked when ripe. They only stay fresh after picking up to three days. Jelly is made from cherries since cherries cannot be stored. When storing, you need to remove the stones first.
Cherry fruit is found on trees and shrubs. The trees range in size from 8 feet to 30 feet in height. The cherry has a very short growing season and grow in temperate latitudes. The peak season is summertime.
The most widely cultivated cherry is known as the wild or sweet cherry derived from the Prunus avium. These are our eating cherries. There is a huge variety of sweet-eating cherries. Some sweet varieties are Bing, Brooks, Tulare, King, Rainier, Lambert, Royal Ann, Queen Anne, and Napoleon, as well as the Emperor Francis variety widely produced in New York State.
The other type of cherry is the sour cherry, from Prunus Cerasus, basically used for cooking or their nutrient filled juice. Tart or sour cherry varieties include Montmorency, Morella, and Evans.
The eating and cooking cherries do not cross-pollinate. Both species originated in Asia and Western Europe.
Cherry Fruit Producers,
The annual world production of cultivated cherry fruit is about two million tons. The world's leading producers, in their order of production, are Turkey, U.S., Iran, Italy, Russia, Syria, Spain, Ukraine, Romania, and Greece.
Approximately 13% of the world's production is grown in the United States. To give you an idea of how many cherries are produced, tart cherry fruit production alone is currently forecasted at over 190 million pounds in the U.S. That forecast does not include the sweet or wild cherry production. Top-producing cherry fruit states are Michigan, Washington, Utah, New York, Pennsylvania, Oregon, and Wisconsin. Traverse City, Michigan claims to be the "Cherry Capital of the World." They are known for the tart cherries used in cherry pie. They are also known for the world's largest cherry pie at their National Cherry Festival.
Interestingly, the town of Young in New South Wales is known internationally as the "Cherry Capital of Australia." They are famous for the National Cherry Festival featuring varieties of cherry fruit such as Montmorency, Morella, North Star, and many others. Surprisingly, some of their cherry fruit is yellow.
Enjoy Cherry Fruit
So whether you are enjoying cherry fruit strictly for its nutritional properties, taste, or just love baking a fresh cherry cobbler or pie, cherry fruit is for you. Whether fresh, frozen, or canned, you can enjoy cherry fruit anywhere you live. So stay cheery and eat your cherry!
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