Honey + Cherry Recipes for National Cherry Day

Posted by National Honey Board on July 15, 2022

Fruit Board

July is the peak of the summer season, but it is also the middle of sweet cherry season (tart cherries are typically available for a short time in June in warmer climates and July in cooler areas)! A staple of any summer tablescape, cherries are beloved not only for their great flavor, but also for their numerous health benefits and versatility. National Cherry Day is July 16th, so we’re dedicating this week’s blog post to the small but mighty cherry!

While this popular stone fruit didn’t make its way to the U.S. until it came over with the early settlers in the 1600s, the first documented reference to cherries can be found in Greek author Theophrastus’ “History of Plants” all the way back in 300 B.C.1 It is said that modern-day cherry production began here at home around 1852 by Peter Dougherty in Michigan2fun fact: Michigan is often referred to as the “Cherry Capital”, as about 94% of cherries consumed in the U.S. are grown there.1 As a whole, the U.S. cherry industry is said to produce more than 650 million pounds of cherries each year, with Michigan responsible for about 75% of the tart cherry crop and Oregon and Washington harvesting about 60% of the sweet cherry crop.2 And speaking of varieties – did you know that there are actually more than 1,000 varieties of cherries? It’s true, but it is rumored that only 20% of them are used for “commercial purposes.” 1 Oh, and did we mention that similar to many other fruits (and vegetables, nuts and legumes), cherries are pollinated by honey bees? In fact, shortly following almond pollination, many honey bee hives are transported to Michigan and the Northwest to pollinate the nation’s cherries.

Now, more than just their beautiful color and enjoyable sweet/tart flavor, cherries are actually a fairly nutritious food. In addition to only being 97 calories per cup, pitted, raw sweet cherries also provide 3 grams of fiber, 12% of your Daily Value (DV) of vitamin C, and 8% DV of potassium (among other minerals).3 Similarly, one cup of raw, pitted tart cherries come in at 80 calories, and provide 3 g of fiber, 15% DV of Vitamin C, and 6% DV of potassium.4 And this is before we talk about their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory compounds like polyphenols which may help fight off cellular damage and may reduce your risk of chronic disease. According to the Cherry Industry Administrative Board, “[s]tudies on cardiovascular health are still emerging, with preliminary studies exploring tart cherries and the effect on blood pressure and blood lipids.” In multiple studies consisting of a range of participants, the consumption of tart cherry juice appears to help reduce both systolic blood pressure and LDL (“bad”) cholesterol when compared to placebo beverages.4 Having trouble getting a restful night’s sleep? Cherries may help with that too – or at least that is what some preliminary research shows. According to our friends over at HealthLine.com, it is believed that the high concentration of plant compounds and melatonin can aid in improving sleep, though more research needs to be completed.

We’re not sure about you, but one of the top reasons we love cherries so much is, like honey, that it is versatile and so easy to work into a variety of dishes. From beverages and appetizers to snacks and desserts, cherries and honey can be found making culinary magic together at any time of day. Below we are sharing our top five honey and cherry recipes that will make celebrating cherries as easy as No Bake Choco Cherry Pie!

We want to hear from you! What are your favorite honey and cherry recipes? Let us know in the comments below.


SOURCES:

1 National Cherry Day. National Today. © 2017–2022. https://nationaltoday.com/nati...

2 History of Cherries. National Cherry Festival. © 2022. https://www.cherryfestival.org...

3 Cherries, sweet, raw. FoodData Central. U.S. Department of Agriculture Agricultural Research Service. 4/1/2019. https://fdc.nal.usda.gov/fdc-a...

4 The Nutrition Story of this Homegrown Superfruit. Cherry Industry Administrative Board. July 2018. https://choosecherries.wpengin...