Tart cherries are seldom sold fresh in your local grocery store. They are harvested in July and usually frozen, canned, or dried for use throughout the year. You'll need to find a farmers' market to purchase them fresh.
Popular varieties include the Montmorency, Morello, and Early Richmond. Montmorency is the most popular of the sour cherry varieties the U.S. and Canada providing 95% or more of the sour cherries on the market. They are harvested in July and are light to dark red. This cherry has been cultivated in the United States for more than a century.
Sour cherry trees are usually smaller than sweet cherry trees. Sour cherry
trees also grow in a wider range of climates. The leading U.S. states in the production of
sour cherries include Michigan, New York, and Utah. Sour cherry trees will produce fruit
when pollinated with their own pollen or with pollen from another sour cherry variety.
As with other fruits, appropriate handling techniques should be used when working with
cherries. Add the cherries near the end of the preparation process of your recipe, if
possible, to preserve texture and shape.
For centuries, the cherry, either as bark, root or fruit, has been a source of medicine for indigenous peoples. Native Americans prized cherries as pain relievers, especially for sore throats. The Cherokees used an infusion of sour cherry bark to treat laryngitis. The Ojibwa used the crushed root for stomach pain. The Forest Potawatomi employed an infusion of the inner bark to alleviate internal pains while the MicMac used black cherry fruit as a health tonic. (I suspect that the cherry flavoring of most cough medicines is a faint memory of this ancient Native American usage.)
The good news about the health benefits of cherries continues to increase. According to ongoing research, Montmorency tart cherries are a rich source of antioxidants, which can help fight cancer and heart disease. In addition, there are beneficial compounds in Montmorency tart cherries that help relieve the pain of arthritis and gout. Other fruits and vegetable do not have the pain relief of tart cherries. While the research on the exact mechanisms that give the pain relief is ongoing, many consumers are discovering that tart cherry juice and other cherry products can stave off pain.
Many people have discovered that 100% ready to drink tart cherry juice helps relieve
the pain of arthritis and gout. Others say it cures headaches and some say it helps them
sleep better. Now there is a new brochure all about cherry juice . It's called "The
Natural Choice: Tart Cherry Juice." This brochure, produced by the Cherry Marketing
Institute (CMI), gives consumers health benefits information, nutrition and usage ideas.
Also check out Health Benefits of Tart Cherry Juice
One pound of fresh or frozen cherries = about 3 cups. It takes 4 to 5 cups of tart cherries to make a pie.
There are about 2 1/3 cups cherry pie filling in a 21-ounce can. There are about 2 cups of tart cherries in a 16-ounce can.
It takes 6 to 8 pounds of fresh
to make 1 pound of dried cherries
Freeze cherries as soon as possible after picking to ensure a high quality product. To freeze: Stem and sort cherries. Wash in cold water. Drain and pit. Pack into containers in one of the following ways:
With sugar: 3/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water; mix to dissolve.
In syrup: Bring 5 cups sugar and 4 cups water to a rolling boil. Chill syrup before using to freeze cherries.
Plain: Place in freezer quality plastic bags.
Sour, Tart, or Pie Cherries