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Cherries are a small, round, dark red stone fruit. It has a long stalk and a fleshy drupe containing a hard stone. They grow on trees in small clusters. Cherries come in two main types: sweet and sour or tart.
· Sweet cherries are larger and heart-shaped. They can be enjoyed freshly picked and are also excellent cooked. They range in colour from golden, red-blushed (Royal Ann) to dark red or purplish black (Bing, Lambert and Tartarian).
· Sour cherries are smaller, softer and more globular in shape than sweet cherries. Unlike sweet cherries, most sour varieties are too tart to eat raw, but they are excellent in pies and preserves. Varieties of sour cherries include Early Richmond (bright red; first to be available in late spring), Montmorency (bright red) and Morello (dark mahogany red).
Pit the cherries (remove the seeds) using a good cherry pitter or simply take a sharp knife, slice it from the top to remove the stem and then cut it into half from the centre. Remove the seeds from centre. Chop by cutting them in small pieces approximately ¼ inch in diameter, although the chopped food doesn't need to be exactly the same size. If the recipe calls for the ingredients to be "chopped," make the pieces slightly larger whereas if it says "finely chopped" chop them smaller.
Cherries without the seeds are called deseeded cherries. Cherry pitters and seed removers here to fore devised and utilized for the purpose of removing pits and seeds from cherries. Alternatively use sharp knife for the same, slice a cherry from the top to remove the stem and then cut it into half from the centre. Remove the seeds from centre using a knife. Use them as required.
How to select
Pit the cherries (remove the seeds) using a good cherry pitter or simply take a sharp knife, slice it from the top to remove the stem and then cut it into half from the centre. Remove the seeds from centre. Slice by cutting vertically across the cutting board. Slice the cherries (thinly or thickly) as per the recipe requirement.
Good cherries have bright, glossy, plump-looking surfaces and fresh-looking stems. Sweet cherries should be large, glossy, plump, hard, and dark-coloured. Sour cherries should be plump, firm, and a bright scarlet colour. The stems should be fresh and green. Dark stems are a sign of old age or poor storage conditions. Avoid ones that do not have stems. Sweet cherries should crackle when you bite into them. Avoid cherries that are overly soft or flabby and ones that are sticky from leakage. Overmature cherries lack flavor and are indicated by shrivelling, dried stems, and a generally dull appearance. Culinary Uses
· Cherries are eaten fresh and can pack them in lunches for a treat.
· When serving fresh cherries, rinse them under cold water and drain. They are most attractive with their stems attached. Some people prefer cherries chilled, while others find them sweetest at room temperature.
· Add cherries to a mixed fruit salad or gelatin.
· Cherries can be made into pie filling, flavoured yoghurt, jellies, jams, sauces, stewed fruit and fruit drinks.
· Blend fresh cherries into a smoothie
· It can be used for garnishing desserts, cakes, ice cream and candies. How to store
Loosely pack unwashed cherries in plastic bags or place them in a shallow plate in a single layer and cover with plastic wrap. Store them in a refrigerator. Fresh cherries will last up to a week, but check them often and remove any that have gone bad as a number of spoiled cherries will start the others on the road to decay. To preserve cherries and use them later, select red, tree-ripened fruit. Remove the stems and rinse the fruit in cool water; remove pits, if desired. You can then freeze, can or dry the cherries. Health Benefits
· Cherries contain no fat, cholesterol, or sodium and hence can top the list of fruits for a healthy heart.
· It is also a good source of fiber, those suffering from diabetes and high cholesterol must have this fruit.
· It is a high source of vitamin C, an immune boosting vitamin that fights infection and makes the skin shinier and healthier.
· Contain beta carotene, red coloured pigment that is a natural antioxidant that fights cancer causing free radicals.