Take Your Pick
There are two main categories of cherries: sweet and sour. Sweet cherries (including dark-red Bings and yellowish Rainiers) are the type you’ll see most often at the market. They’re great for snacking, adding to a cheese plate, or balancing the flavor of a bitter-greens salad. You’re unlikely to find fresh sour cherries (also called tart or pie cherries) during their fleeting summer growing season, but they’re often available frozen, canned, or juiced.
Get a Boost
Cherries are a low-glycemic fruit and a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin C, and potassium. They’re also rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, plant compounds that support immune function and reduce inflammation. Research shows that these antioxidant compounds may help reduce exercise-induced muscle aches, making tart-cherry juice and powder popular supplements for improving athletic performance and easing postworkout soreness.
Shop and Store
Choose shiny, firm, plump cherries without signs of wrinkling or bruising, which indicate the fruit is past its peak freshness. Look for intact, bright-green stems; stemless cherries may have a shorter shelf life, because the open stem hole will be more susceptible to rot. Store fresh, dry cherries in your refrigerator for up to a week. Wash thoroughly in cold water just before eating — moisture can cause them to spoil faster.
Freeze and Enjoy
You can freeze your own fresh cherries if you don’t plan to enjoy them within a few days of purchasing. Pit them first, then place in a colander, rinse in cool water, and pat dry thoroughly. Freeze cherries on a baking sheet until solid, then transfer to an air-tight container and use within a year. Toss frozen cherries into a hydrating smoothie (see Cherry Mint Blast) or add them to our Black Forest Baked Oatmeal.
This article originally appeared as “Cherries” in the July/August 2021 issue of Experience Life.