The cherries they are small stone fruits, round and of an intense red color, which are typically sold throughout Europe in summer. Depending on the variety, there are hundreds of them, their size and flavor can vary, but they usually fall into one of two categories: sweet or sour (sour).
The sweet cherries they are usually eaten as they come, while the sour cherries they are more used in cooking. The most familiar cherry varieties are the black stone cherry, the blackberry and the Spanish cherry. All cherries have a core in the center that must be removed before eating or cooking them.
Nutritional benefits of cherries
Cherries are a good source of fiber, vitamins, and minerals, including potassium, calcium, vitamin A, and folic acid. They are also well known for their antioxidant properties.
Antioxidants are vital to health, as they protect our cells from damage caused by oxidants or free radicals. Cherries contain antioxidants known as anthocyanins and cyanidin which can have anti-inflammatory effects, and initial research has shown that these antioxidants could be useful in inflammatory conditions such as arthritis, although more research is needed to replicate these findings in human studies.
Research from the British Journal of Nutrition found that cherry juice can help lower blood pressure due to its high polyphenol content.
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Over the years, a great deal of research has been carried out on cherries, in particular on sour cherries, and on the role they can play in exercise and recovery. Research from the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition found that drinking sour cherry juice for seven days before and during a grueling run minimizes muscle aches after exercise. Another study found that cherry juice appears to aid muscle recovery and function after strenuous exercise.
Cherries contain high concentrations of key phytochemicals, including melatonin, which is involved in regulating our sleep cycles. However, slightly conflicting research has been done to see if cherries, and especially cherry juice, are beneficial for those with difficulty sleeping, but the signs are encouraging.
For example, research in the European Journal of Nutrition found that crusted cherry juice is beneficial for improving sleep in terms of both quality and duration, and may be beneficial for those with sleep disorders, while another study suggests that cherry juice may be beneficial for insomnia sufferers.
There has been some research into the effects of cherry juice on gout. One study showed that consuming cherries and cherry juice over a two-day period is associated with a lower risk of gout attacks, while another study suggests that cherry juice must be consumed for at least four months to reduce acute attacks. Further research suggests that drinking cherry juice lowers blood uric acid levels (which can trigger a gout attack).
However, these findings have not yet been replicated in a large-scale study involving participants with gout and, therefore, it is certainly too early to make specific assessments. More research needs to be done before we can say that cherry juice prevents or eases gout.
Variety of cherries
Summarized which are the main characteristics of cherries, we can take a step forward and try to understand which are the main varieties of cherries that can be purchased in Italy.
For example, one of the best known is the Burlat, a variety that originates in France. The ripening of the cherries takes place between 20 and 25 May in the South and in the Islands, and a week later in the Center. In the North, ripening takes place in the first week of June.
Another very common variety in Italy is the Giorgia. A variety that is very often appreciated by farmers, given that the cherry tree of this variety has a very high productivity, so much so that the main problem is ... to avoid overproduction! The ripening of this variety usually takes place about ten days after the ripening of the Burlat.
Another variety of Italian origin is the Grace Star. A very interesting variety, which does not need a lot of care. The ripening takes place between 10 and 15 days after that of the Burlat.
Instead, she is of foreign origin, and in particular the Canadian, the Van. The variety goes into production early and bears abundant fruit. It therefore requires good pruning. In return, cherries taste great, although their texture is jeopardized by potential cracks caused by rain. Ripening is a little late compared to the Burlat variety, so much so that it occurs about 2 - 3 weeks after the Burlat.
So we have variety Kordia, which is native to the eastern part of the old continent, and has however spread in recent times, with some success, also in Italy, especially in the low mountain areas where it is possible to further enhance the late ripening. In fact, the ripening of this variety of cherries occurs about 3-4 weeks after the Burlat one, which we have taken as a reference point for the calculation of ripeness, becoming a very useful variety in order to extend the validity of the cherry harvest season.
However, to try to identify a cherry variety that ripens even later we need to move towards Queen, originally from Germany, but now widespread also in Italy. In fact, its maturation takes place after 30 days that of Burlat, thus giving the possibility to enjoy a productivity that is not only constant and high, but also late.