Cherries: picking, selecting, storing
24 Oct 2013 09.52 am by Renny Wijeyamohan
Cherries are an energy boosting summertime fruit. A favourite of anyone with a sweet tooth, they are delicious when eaten fresh or combined into a multitude of mouth-watering desserts (think black forest cake, cherry pie and summer pudding). Cherries are full of anthocynanins that can provide health benefits like reducing pain and inflammation and boosting the immune system. They are also a good source of antioxidants.
The best time to pick cherries is when they are shiny, full and have a rich colour. Depending on the variety this can be pink, yellow, red or purple. If your cherries have developed a bright and glossy colour, you can use a tactile test to see they are ready to harvest: try pulling the stem from a single cherry – if the stem separates easily from the fruit then your cherries are ready to be picked.
To pick a cherry, grasp the stem about 2 cm (approx. 1 inch) above the fruit between your thumb and forefinger, twist and pull down gently. Cherries have soft skin and bruise easily, so it’s best to leave the stems on when picking. This will also prevent tearing of the skin at the top of the cherry, which can allow bacteria to enter and reduce the cherry’s shelf life.
When you’re selecting cherries from your supermarket or grocery store, look for ones that are full, firm and brightly coloured – these will be the most flavoursome. While slight marks and blemishes are okay, avoid cherries that are soft or have holes in them, this could be a sign that birds or other pests have tasted your cherry first!
Like most berries, cherries have an incredibly short life span in comparison to other fruits. Fresh cherries left at room temperature will last up to 48 hours. If you don’t intend to eat them immediately, it’s a good idea to place them in the refrigerator in a plastic bag where they will remain fresh for about 7 days. If you’d like to keep your cherries longer than this – maybe to throw into a fruit smoothie or to garnish an icecream sundae – you can try freezing them. Frozen cherries can last for up to 2 years.
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