When fresh cherries arrive in the produce markets in late spring, fruit lovers celebrate. Cherries signal the beginning of the summer produce season; soon to follow are apricots, plums, peaches, nectarines, melons, berries and grapes. Months of great fruit eating are ahead, but first, there are cherries to enjoy.
Cherries are among the oldest cultivated fruits; their domestication dates back to circa 300 BCE. It is thought that the first region where cherry trees were grown was Anatolia, or Asia Minor (where Turkey is today). Although there are hundreds of cherry varieties, only a handful are produced on a large enough scale to be sold commercially. The many varieties belong to two categories; "sweet cherries" are cultivated for eating fresh, and "sour cherries" are cultivated for baking and preserving. Brooks, Bing, Linden, and Ranier are a few of the varieties which you may discover in produce markets.
When shopping for cherries, chose fruit that is deeply colored, shiny and smooth skinned. Recently cherries have been referred to as a "super food" because they contain a wide range of valuable nutrients. If you find good quality cherries in the market, buy as many as you can carry home; the cherry season is short and this is a fruit which should be enjoyed in quantity! Cherries store best in the fridge; wash them thoroughly before eating.