‘Cherries, ripe cherries …’
Summer just wouldn’t be the same without juicy, cheerful cherries. Well supplied with nutrients—vitamin C, beta-carotene, potassium, a little iron and some fibre—they are also high in phytochemicals such as anthocyanins (the pigments responsible for the red and blue colours of fruits and vegetables). And quercetin, an antioxidant that may have anti-inflammatory properties making cherries (particularly cherry juice) of interest to people who suffer from gout.
There are numerous varieties, but two basic types: sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and sour (also called tart or pie) cherries (P. cerasus). Buy fresh sweet cherries with the stems intact and store unwashed and loosely packed in plastic bags in the refrigerator. They should keep for up to a week, but it is a good idea to check occasionally and remove any that have begun to go mouldy. You can extend the all-too-short cherry season by freezing them. Rinse and drain thoroughly, then spread the cherries out on a baking tray, freeze, then place the cherries in a plastic container or freezer bag. They should keep for up to a year.
Although you can find fresh sour cherries in produce stores and markets (usually without stems), commercially grown sour varieties are usually canned, dried or frozen for use in throughout the year.If you can’t find dried sour/tart cherries in your supermarket, look for them in specialist produce stores. They are not widely available in Australia, for example, but well worth tracking down. One supplier is Dry Ideas, an innovative fruit drying company based in Tasmania that’s been developing preservative free (no sulphur) dried sour cherries, blueberries and apricots for the past 10 years. For more information go to http://www.scientifichorticulture.com.au/. North American readers can check out availability at http://www.usacherries.com/ (Where To Buy).
Because cherries are a good source of carbohydrate, they can be glycemic index tested. The original GI for cherries (22) was based on an early European study that may not have been reliable. Later tests of red ripe Australian cherries, with 6 per cent glucose and 4 per cent fructose, produced a higher GI (65). Dried and frozen Montmorency tart cherries have recently been tested by Glycemic Index Laboratories in Toronto (www.gitesting.com) for the Cherry Marketing Institute in the US.
Montmorency tart (sour) cherries
- Frozen tart cherries GI 54
- Dried tart cherries GI 58
Serve this medium-hot salsa from the Cherry Marketing Institute with grilled chicken, pork or fish. Use fewer or more chipotle chillies to make salsa milder or hotter. For more cherry recipes go to to http://www.usacherries.com/
Makes 3 cups
1 cup (180 grams/6 1/4 oz) dried tart cherries
1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) water
3 fresh corn ears, shucked
1 small red (Spanish) onion, chopped
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1/4 cup (15 grams/½ oz) chopped coriander (cilantro)
2 to 3 whole chipotle chillies in adobo sauce, finely chopped
1/2 cup (125 ml/4 fl oz) lemon or lime juice
Salt, to taste
1) Heat the cherries and water in a small saucepan. Simmer for about 5 minutes, or until the cherries have plumped and water is slightly syrupy. Set aside to cool.
2) Meanwhile, roast each ear of corn directly over gas flame on the stovetop or over a gas grill or barbecue (just as you would for a roasted capsicum/pepper). Turn the corn until each ear is slightly charred all around. Set aside to cool. Cut corn kernels from cobs.
3) Combine corn, cherries with liquid, onion, garlic, coriander, chillies and lemon juice. Season with salt to taste and serve.
- Use 2 or 3 dried chipotle chillies rehydrated in a little water if chipotle chillies in adobo sauce aren’t stocked at your local supermarket or corner store.
- Adobo Sauce is a spicy tomato sauce made with ancho (poblano) chillies, cumin, oregano, cayenne and tomato sauce. There’s a great recipe for it in The Wholefoods Market Cookbook.