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Cherries contain beta carotene, fiber and Vitamin C

Cherries are a fruit that grow on trees. They are known as stone fruits or drupes because of the large pit inside of the flesh. They are related to other stone fruits, such as plums, and more distantly to peaches and nectarines.

Cherries come in different varieties and colors, and are categorized as sweet or sour. Sweet cherries have more calories and less vitamin C and beta carotene than sour cherries.

The best known sour cherry is the Montgomery. It is typically found in commercial pie fillings. Bing and Lambert cherries are some of the most popular sweet varieties.

Cherries are nutritional powerhouses, boasting antioxidant properties and other healthful nutrients. Incorporating cherries into your diet is a good way to enjoy beta carotene, fiber and vitamin C.

The western states in the U.S. are responsible for 70 percent of the cherry production. Cherries have a limited growing season; therefore, cherries found in groceries after August are probably imported and kept in cold storage.

A loss of texture and taste occurs when cherries are subjected to warm temperatures. So choose fruit that has been stored in a cool, moist place.

Cherries will not ripen once picked, so take the time to choose good fruit at the market. Worthwhile cherries should be large (about an inch or more in diameter), glossy, plump, hard, and dark-colored for their variety. Look for cherries that still contain the stems, which should be green and healthy.

You can store cherries in the refrigerator for up to one week. If they are frozen in a single layer, and then transferred to a freezer bag, they can be kept frozen for up to one year.

Cherries taste the best at room temperature, or enjoyed right off of the tree. Other preparations include being baked into pies and desserts. Cherries can be poached in a small amount of water or wine and turned into a jam.

Easy-to-make Cherry Tart

(Makes one tart)

• 1 rolled, prepared refrigerated pie crust at room temperature (half of box contents)

• 1 can of cherry pie filling, with mostly fruit reserved (save juice and gel for toast or to spread on other desserts)

• 1 teaspoon lemon zest

• 1 teaspoon orange zest

• Nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 425 F. Spray a cookie sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Unroll the crust on the sheet. Spread the cherries and zests onto the crust, leaving a 2-inch crust border.

Fold the crust over so that it partially covers the cherry filling, but the center is left exposed. Bake about 20 to 25 minutes, or until the crust is lightly brown.

Serve warm with vanilla ice cream, if desired.


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