In case it hasn’t been clearly marked in your calendar, it will be a pleasant surprise to learn that today is National Cherry Day! All hail these small, red and fruity gems. 

To celebrate all things very cherry, we’ve compiled five juicy (and we think, fascinating) cherry-based facts for you to marvel at. It transpires that cherries are a Jekyll and Hyde fruit that could both cure you and kill you – who knew? If not you, then read on.

 

Fruit’s Routes

Let’s start are the beginning. The Romans brought the British Isles an array of great and essential goods - apples, pears, grapes and wine. Cheers to the Romans for those, and in addition, they brought us sweet, juicy, scarlet cherries.

It’s said that many of our Roman roads had cherry trees along their length; sprouted from stones spat out by marching legions. With BoroughBox’s office based along Britain’s most famous Roman road, the Old Kent Road, this does in fact seem to be true – cherry trees are abundant here.

The sweet cherry originated in the lands between the Black Sea and Caspian Sea, brought to our great British shores from Turkey around 50 A.D. – directly from Cerasus, the origin city from which the word cherry is derived.

 

Cherry Well

cherries

While cherries have long been a popular dessert fruit, during the 15th and 16th centuries they were popularly consumed for their medicinal properties. Recent studies by the University of Michigan have concluded that cherries can indeed be used as a natural painkiller, effective for arthritis and gout – possessing natural painkilling properties similar to aspirin.

Henry VIII, a sufferer of gout during the mid 16th century had a great love of cherries, which led to his royal fruiterer, Richard Harrys, planting vast cherry orchards in Teynham, Kent – initiating the county as the garden of England.

Cherries are jam-packed with potassium, vitamin C and B complex, and melatonin - the latter, according to the American Institute of Cancer Research, has shown cancer-prevention potential in recent laboratory studies.

  

Rich pickings

cherries

Cherries in general is an expensive fruit, one of the key reasons for this is that it’s a short-season crop. Short harvests encourage higher demand - when people are aware that cherries won’t be in season for long, they are keen to buy them whilst they are good and fresh. 

There are over 1000 varieties of cherry, each with a unique taste and appearance, although only a fraction of these varieties are grown commercially around the world. The most popular British dessert cherry is ‘Stella’.

The Japanese variety - Sato Nishiki - is reportedly the world’s most expensive cherry. A fresh punnet of around 40-50 cherries will set you back £300. At £6 a cherry, Sato Nishiki cherries are among some of the most expensive fruit in the world.  

 

Killer core

cherry and pip

Cherries are not berries, they are in fact fleshy drupes - or stoned fruits, if you prefer. Never chew on the seemingly harmless cherry stone though, and certainly do not to crack one open and consume the core. And the same goes for other fleshy drupes like plums, apricots, peaches and even apple seeds. 

Lurking within each stone is the chemical compound, amygdalin - which turns into hydrogen cyanide when consumed. Sounds bad? You’d be right. 

In 2017, a Lancashire man cracked open a trio of cherry stones and ate the apparently tasty, almond-like core. Within 10 minutes he was hot, he was drowsy, and soon after - he was being treated in hospital for cyanide poisoning.

Fear not, though – simply don’t munch on the stones and you’ll be fine. And if you accidentally gulp down a stone or two whole, don’t worry – just let nature take its course.

 

Mid-century Chic 

As a nation, we’re fickle friends to cherries. In the 1950s Britain had vast acres of cherry orchards, around 18,000. By 2001 the number had dropped to just 1000 acres where the acreage remains to this day. 

In our mind it’s time for a mid-century resurgence. Hopefully the above facts have boosted your love of cherries, if so, it’s recipe time. Here’s a quick and super simple summer recipe for ice cool, refreshing cherry lolly pops. Enjoy!

cherry lolly

Ingredients: 

·   250g cherries, stoned

·   200g carton Greek-style yogurt

·   1 tbsp honey

·   Finely zested rind of 1 lemon

·   Ice-lolly moulds and sticks

 

Instructions:

1. Place the ingredients (with 150g of the yoghurt) in a liquidiser or food processor and whizz until smooth, marble through the remaining yoghurt with a spoon.

2. Pour the mixture into the ice-lolly moulds and freeze for about 2 hours, until the mixture thickens.

3. Press a stick into each and leave in the freezer. Freeze until solid.

4. Remove from the freezer and dip the moulds swiftly into hot water to release the lollies.

cherry in box