By all accounts, this will be a memorable summer for cherries.
Z’s Orchard in Palisade has begun harvesting the stone fruit and gushes on its Facebook page about its “beautiful cherries” in one of the decade’s “most bountiful crops.” The Colorado Department of Agriculture reports that the state’s fruit growers are enjoying a terrific year for cherries — and all fruit. And this year’s cherry crop in Washington state will be “the third-largest ever,” according to April Mayrath, spokeswoman for Washington state cherry growers.
There are so many reasons to champion cherries besides the flavor. They are a nutritional powerhouse. According to research gathered by the Northwest Cherry Growers:
• They are a good source of potassium. Increasing evidence shows that a diet rich in potassium may help to control blood pressure and reduce the risk for hypertension and stroke.
• They are a source of melatonin, which helps to ease jet lag and promotes overall healthy sleep patterns.
• They have anti-inflammatory properties, which might help to control arthritis and gout.
• They contain antioxidants that could reduce the risk of cancer and heart disease.
• Anthocyanins in cherries might help to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease, too.
And if those aren’t enough reasons to indulge, this one might grab you: They are low in calories. A serving of 21 cherries has fewer than 100 calories.
But you can gobble only so many fresh cherries. So plan to stock your freezer. Just wash them and remove the stem and pit. Spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze. Once frozen, store them in Ziplock bags. Then they’ll be ready to pop into a blender for smoothies or to use in other recipes.
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