Food facts - Cherries

Cherry Nutrition, Selection, Storage and Availability Cherries are a good source of antioxidants, which help fight cancer and heart disease.  Tart cherries also relieve the pain of arthritis and gout.  Most cherries grown in Wisconsin are tart cherries, as they are hardy enough to survive cold Wisconsin winters.  Tart cherries are seldom eaten fresh, but instead are used in pies and jams.  When selecting cherries, look for those that are large, firm, and have even, deep-red coloring.  Avoid cherries that are soft, have wrinkled skin, are leaking and sticky, or those that have any signs of decay. Immature cherries will be smaller and less juicy while over-mature product will be soft, dull and wrinkled.  When storing cherries, keep them unwashed in a sealed container in the coldest part of the refrigerator.  This allows the cherries to keep for several days.  Wash cherries only when you are ready to eat them, as cherries absorb water and soften.  Throw away any cherry showing decay, as they will affect the other cherries.  Cherries are best when eaten in the first week after they are picked.  Cherries can also be frozen with special preparation for long-term storage up to one year. Fresh cherries usually ripen in Wisconsin in mid-July to August.

Cherry Extras The United States produces about 650 million pounds of cherries each year.  The tart cherry crop in 2003 was 222.2 million pounds.  The average tart cherry tree produces about 7,000 cherries.  February is National Cherry Month -- Cherries have been enjoyed since the time of the Roman conquerors, and found their way to America in the 1600s.

Information from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection and the Cherry Marketing Institute.