Deirdre, our Health and Wellness officer, educates the GetSmarter team about the chosen food of the month.
If there is one fruit above all that is associated with the Festive Season, then it is surely cherries. These sweet little treasures are a delight during this time of the year, and can be used in a variety of ways in your festive cooking.
Cultivation of cherries probably began with Greeks, and was perpetuated by Romans, where it was believed to be an essential part of the Legionnaire's diet (this lead to the spread throughout Europe).
Trees were planted along roadsides and were valued for their timber as well as their fruit. Not only do cherries taste delicious, they have an amazing assortment of health benefits that have earned them the nickname “superfruit” during recent times.
Emerging evidence links cherries to many important benefits – from helping to ease the pain of arthritis and gout, to reducing risk factors for heart disease, diabetes and certain cancers.
Cherries also have been found to help regulate the body’s natural sleep patterns, aid with jet lag, prevent memory loss and delay the aging process. Here are a few ways for you to enjoy the natural benefits and great taste of this “superfruit”:
Classic Cherry Pie Ingredients
• 4 cups tart cherries
• 1 cup sugar
• Pinch of salt
• 3 tbsp corn starch
• 3/4 cup cherry juice
• 1/4 tsp lemon or almond extract
• 1/4 tsp red food colouring
• 2 tbsp butter
• Crust for two-crust pie
Mix 1/4 cup sugar, salt and corn starch. Add 1/4 cup cherry juice to make a paste. In a saucepan, mix 3/4 cup sugar and 1/2 cup cherry juice and bring to a boil. While boiling, slowly add corn starch mixture.
Stir constantly, and cook until thick and clear. Fold in the cherries and add lemon or almond extract, food coloring and butter. Pour into pie crust, cover with top crust and bake at 190° C for one hour.
Dried Cherry Biscotti (A wonderful sweet treat)
• 2 ½ cups of flour
• 1 cup of sugar
• ½ tsp baking soda
• ½ tsp baking powder
• ½ tsp salt
• 3 medium eggs
• 1 tsp vanilla extract
• 2/3 cups of dried cherries, chopped
• 1 cup of ground almonds
Blend together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Add the eggs and vanilla, beating until a dough is formed. Stir in the chopped dried cherries and ground almonds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead several times.
Using a greased cookie sheet as a surface, divide the dough in half and form into two flat logs about 9 inches long and 3 inches wide. Bake at 180° C for 25 minutes or until lightly browned on top. Allow to cool on the baking sheet, resting on a rack for 10 minutes.
Reduce oven temperature to 160° C. On a cutting board, cut the logs on the diagonal into half-inch thick pieces.
Return to the oven for 5 minutes. Turn over and bake for another 5 minutes. Remove from cookie sheet and allow to cool on baking rack. Store in airtight container.
This article is published under the Creative Commons Attribution license.