The Montmorency cherry is a sour cherry that is the most-used cherry in jams, jellies, and pies. The cherry is called Montmorency, after a valley in France. This cherry is grown in France, Canada and in Michigan and Wisconsin in the United States.
Cherries are in one of two categories–either sweet or sour. Sweet cherries are represented by the famous Bing cherry, most of which are grown in the Northwestern part of the United States. The Montmorency Cherry is the most popular sour cherry, and it’s also sold dried and as a juice concentrate.
Cherries have always had health benefits, but until the recent interest in the role of antioxidants in nutrition, consumers didn’t give a lot of thought to the potential benefits of cherries as a health food. Antioxidants, however, have recently earned the reputation of helping to prevent cancer, heart disease, and to fight the free radicals which destroy human cells. In addition, antioxidants can serve as anti-inflammatories, acting in the same way as the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID), ibuprofen, to relieve pain.
While sufficient research has not been completed on dried cherries or cherry juice, it is known that the cherries themselves have antioxidants, are high in vitamins and minerals, plus such as B-complex vitamins, vitamin C, and potassium. Cherries contain no fat and have only minimal amounts of sodium and overall calories.
As in many other fruits, it is the red pigment, or anthocyanins, which are the antioxidants. Very few fruits top the sour cherry when it comes to antioxidants, and the Montmorency cherry is among the best. The Montmorency cherry has a large amount of melatonin, and it has been discovered that melatonin aids in getting the right amount of sleep and in slowing down the aging process.
While there still needs to be more research, cherries have been shown to be helpful for diabetics, because they can lower blood sugar levels. They have shown potential in the prevention of colon cancer, plus cherries can assist in the treatment of gout and arthritis and work to lower bad cholesterol.
While eating a Montmorency cherry is a delight for some, if you don’t like tart tasting foods, you would be better off trying the cherry in a pie or some preserves. The sweet Bing cherry is more suited to eating by the handful, but they are not as good for baking.
Cherries are among the shortest-lasting of all fruits, starting to lose their color and nutrients almost immediately. That’s why you will rarely see a Montmorency cherry in the fruit section of your local supermarket.
When it comes to growing sour cherries, including the Montmorency cherry, 75% of the U.S. crop is grown in Michigan, and more specifically, on the shores of Lake Michigan. Some tart cherries are also grown in the Northwestern part of the United States. Last year 236,960 tons of sweet cherries were grown in the U.S. and 102,512 tons of sour cherries. Statistics also show that U.S. sweet cherries had a production value of over $300 million, while sour cherry production was under $100,000.
Cherry juice from concentrate is becoming a popular item and it has high concentrations of antioxidants as well. Cherries are also made into dried products, but mostly it is the sweet cherries which are used. If you have never thought of cherries as an everyday fruit that is good for you, now is the time to give cherries a try. They have already been shown to have plenty of antioxidants and other nutrients which make them a healthy fruit alternative to your diet.