Prunus cerasus (sour cherry, tart cherry or wild cherry) is a species of Prunus in the subgenus Cerasus (cherries), native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. It is closely related to the sweet cherry (Prunus avium), but has a fruit that is more acidic, has greater nutritional benefits, and may have greater medicinal effects. The nutritional differences between the sweet and the tart or sour cherries are displayed at the general page for the fruit.
The tree is smaller than the sweet cherry, has twiggy branches, and its crimson-to-near-black cherries are borne upon shorter stalks. There are two varieties of the sour cherry: the dark-red morello cherry and the lighter-red amarelle cherry.
Cherries have long been used as traditional medicines to help with inflammation problems such as those associated with arthritis and gout. Moreover, there are studies currently underway to see whether cherries can have more significant effect in reducing the risk of heart disease and diabetes Type 2 in persons who are at a high risk of suffering from such diseases.
All these benefits lie within the skin of the cherry. The skin of cherries have a high amount of antioxidants which are key in fighting and eliminating free radicals produced within the body. So by eating cherries, you gain the benefits of eating a tasty, healthy snack as well as one that may have life-saving properties. However, not all cherry varieties have the same amount of antioxidants. The sour cherry varieties are known to have more antioxidants than the sweet cherry varieties.
When looking at sour cherry varieties, morello cherries have proven to be worth investigating. Morello cherries are distinguished by their tart taste and very dark skin. Popularly used for dessert pieces such as cherry pies, jams, as well as cherry preserves, the rich taste of morello cherries is often used to complement other ingredients such as chocolate. Morello cherries are late bloomers which in addition to their resistance to pests and diseases, make them a favorite among growers and can be found abundant at market season. Moreover, they are often available frozen.
The medical properties associated with Morello cherries are many and diverse. Recent research indicates that morello cherries are the largest naturally occurring source of melatonin. Melatonin is a hormone produced in the pituitary gland and is largely responsible for regulating sleep patterns. Studies indicate that individuals who eat a cupful of morello cherries are able to fight off jet lag and have more regular sleep patterns.
While studies are still underway regarding the use of morello cherries as well as other cherry varieties to treat inflammatory diseases such as arthritis and gout, there are a number of testimonials to show that sour cherries have a significant effect in treating such disorders. A number of doctors recommend a cupful of cherries or doses of cherry concentrate when they are out of season as preventive and early treatment for patients with these disorders.When searching for morello cherries at the market, be sure to select firm cherries which are clear of any mold or discoloration. The cherries may be stored up to four days under refrigeration. When dealing with morello cherries, you might want to use a cherry pitter, which makes the processing much easier.
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