Did you know that February is National Cherry Month? Some say that the month is dedicated to cherries because of George Washington’s birthday being in February and his lifelong association to cherries. Others say it’s a time to kick off the publicity for the cherry festivals that begin throughout the country in late March and April and continue throughout the summer. I think it could be associated with February because of Valentine’s Day and the tasty chocolate-covered cherries often given as a gift.
Whatever the reason, here are 10 things you might not know about cherries:
1. A 1/2 cup of dried tart cherries will give you 50 percent of your daily vitamin A.
2. Cherries are a rich source of antioxidants and are packed with potassium, vitamin C and B complex, and melatonin. The health benefits of eating cherries include pain relief, prevention of heart disease and cancer, as well as reducing inflammation.
3. Around 94 percent of cherries consumed in the U.S. are grown in Michigan.
4. There are about 35,000 acres of close to 4 million tart cherry trees in Michigan. Traverse City is known as the Cherry Capital of the World.
5. The world record for spitting a cherry pit is 93 ft 6.5 in, set in 2003 by Rick Krause of Michigan.
6. In 1997, cherries were named state fruit of Utah.
7. The average cherry tree grows enough cherries to make 28 pies.
8. A pie weighing 39,683 pounds was baked in Oliver, British Columbia, earning the city the record for baking the biggest cherry pie in the world.
9. If there is a lot of rain when cherries are ripe, they can get so full of water that they can burst, causing them to split. When it’s a particularly rainy season, farmers will sometimes hire helicopters to dry off their fruit so it doesn’t split.
10. Just spit the pits! Don’t chew on cherry pits because they can release toxins. Don’t be alarmed, you’d have to chew a lot of pits before you would hit a dangerous level, but just remember…spit the pits.
Now that you’ve brushed up on your cherry knowledge, try some of our favorite recipes using the fruit: