Cherries are a stone fruit belonging to the Rosaceae (rose) family which is native to the temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere.
Cherries are either sweet — and usually eaten fresh — or tart and used in cooking and baking. The peak season in New Zealand is the end of December and beginning of January.
The red colour of cherries comes from anthocyanins which are being investigated for a range of health benefits. The darker the cherry the more anthocyanins. In New Zealand the dark red variety is by far the most common although you can also buy white-flesh varieties (rainier) in season. A cup of cherries has about 400kJ, 1g of fibre and useful amounts of vitamin C and potassium.
When refrigerated, cherries can be stored for up to three weeks.
Choose cherries that are reasonably firm with glossy, bright skin and fresh, green stems.
- Blend cherries, water and lemon juice and divide among moulds to freeze and create popsicles.
- Combine cherries, breadcrumbs, egg yolk, cheese, olive oil, thyme, oregano and garlic and use as a stuffing for chicken breasts.