|Black cherry Quick Facts|
|Scientific Name:||Prunus serotina|
|Origin||North America, Mexico and Central America|
|Colors||Unripe fruits are generally orange in color which turns to red to black as they ripen|
|Shapes||Nearly globular, one-seeded, 0.5 inch (1.2 cm) diameter drupe|
|Taste||Bitter sweet taste|
|Health benefits||Beneficial for Heart, Treatment of Arthritis, Helps Prevent Cancer, Anti-ageing Benefits, Anti- inflammatory, Fights Tooth Decay, Facilitates Sound Sleep, Skin Protection, Combats Hair Loss, Reduces Oxidative Stress, Eliminates Migraines, Reduce post-exercise muscle soreness, Beneficial for diabetics, Prevent stomach ulcers, Lower Uric Acid|
A mature black cherry can easily be identified in a forest by its very broken, dark grey to black bark, which has the appearance of very thick, burnt, cornflakes. Genus name comes from Latin means plum or cherry tree. Specific epithet comes from the Latin word for “late” in reference to the late flowering and fruiting of this cherry in comparison to other cherries. Fruits are bitter and inedible fresh off the tree, but can be used to make jams and jellies. Fruits have also been used to flavor certain liquors such as brandy and whiskey. Native Americans prepared decoctions of the inner bark for cough medicines and tea-like cold remedies. Hard, reddish-brown wood takes a fine polish and is commercially valued for use in a large number of products such as furniture, veneers, cabinets, interior paneling, gun stocks, instrument/tool handles and musical instruments.
Black cherry is a deciduous, fast growing, single-stemmed, medium- to large-sized tree that grows about 125 feet (38 m) in height and 4 feet (1.2 m) or more in diameter. In the forest it typically has a large, straight, branch-free bole with a narrow crown, but in openings it tends to have a shorter trunk and a broad, irregular crown. The plant is found growing in deciduous woodlands (dominated by oak, basswood-maple, & others), open woodlands, woodland borders, savannas, limestone glades, fence rows, power line clearances, vacant lots, and waste areas. The plant is easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils. It performs best in moist, fertile loams soil. The root has shallow and spreading root system. Most roots occur within 24 inches (61 cm) of the soil surface. Bark on young stems is thin, smooth, and reddish-brown to nearly black. On large trunks the bark is fissured and scaly but remains thin breaking up into small, rough, irregular, upturned plates.
Twigs of black cherry are thin, shiny, reddish-brown, and with prominent dotted lenticels. They give rise to the smooth branchlets and branches that are reddish-brown to reddish-gray and brightly shine in reflected sunlight, with striking horizontal lenticels. Lenticels are fairly common on young stems and branches of most woody plants in the genus Prunus.
Leaves of Black Cherry are among the first to emerge in early spring. They are alternate, simple, and have fine serrations along their margins. The shiny leaves are dark green on their upper sides, light green on their undersides, and easily flutter in the breeze. Fall color is a subdued mixture of green, yellow, and orange hues, sometimes with a hint of red.
Flower & Fruit
Showy white flowers of Black Cherry are arranged in long, pendulous, cylindrical structures that decorate the tree in mid-spring. Flowers are slightly fragrant, attract many bees, and later give rise to the fruits. Flowers are followed by drooping clusters of small cherries. They are nearly globular, one-seeded, 0.5 inch (1.2 cm) diameter drupe. Unripe fruits are normally orange in color which turns to red to black as they ripen. Fruit consist of an oblong-ovoid stone about 0.33 inches (0.75 cm) long. Fruits are bitter and inedible fresh off the tree, but can be used to make jams and jellies. Fruits have also been used to flavor certain liquors such as brandy and whiskey.
Health Benefits of Black Cherry Fruit
Apart from being pleasing to the taste buds, these small fruits are loaded with nutrients which can decrease the risk of many illnesses as well as treat symptoms of other medical conditions. Listed below are few of the health benefits of consuming black cherries.
1. Beneficial for Heart
Black cherries are considered beneficial for your heart because they provide protection against damage to your arterial walls. Melatonin present in black cherries helps to reduce the risk of stroke and heart disease by lowering blood lipid levels. The anthocyanin compounds also act as protective agents against heart disease. (1)
2. Treatment of Arthritis
Arthritis is caused due to the build-up and crystallization of uric acid in the joints, causing immense pain. People having high levels of urate in their blood are at a risk of gout attack. Research has proved that black cherry juice is effective in easing arthritis pain. This is because the anthocyanin compounds help in breaking up the crystals that form in the joints and cause pain. Drinking 8-16 ounces of black cherry juice daily for two weeks can prevent gout attacks by decreasing the urate levels. (2)
3. Helps Prevent Cancer
Including fruits and vegetables in your diet helps to reduce the likelihood of developing several types of cancer. Black cherries consist of several antioxidants that prevent the formation of cancerous cells. Black cherry juice is 100 percent fruit without added sugar and thus is equally beneficial.(3)
4. Anti-ageing Benefits
Pre-mature ageing is the result of damage caused by free radicals leading to an early death of cells. Anthocyanins are powerful antioxidants that help prevent the damage to cells by free radicals, thus preventing pre-mature ageing and reducing the appearance of signs of ageing like fine lines and wrinkles.(4)
5. Anti- inflammatory
Inflammation occurs due to damage caused by free radicals and unfavorably affects the immune system’s natural response and is considered the chief factor for heart disease. Anthocyanin compounds which impart color to the black cherries have the potential to fight free radicals that occur in different parts of the body, thus preventing the inflammatory pathways. Black cherry extract is beneficial in reducing inflammation. (5)
6. Fights Tooth Decay
Dental cavities and tooth decay is caused due to the lack of oral hygiene. Compounds in black cherries block the formation of plaque which often leads to cavities and decay. Thus, you can add black cherries to your diet to reduce the chances of experiencing tooth decay. (6)
7. Facilitates Sound Sleep
Black cherries consist of significant amounts of melatonin, a potent antioxidant that is produced in the brain’s pineal gland and helps to regulate natural sleep patterns. Since black cherry contains more melatonin than that normally produced by the body, it is effective in fighting insomnia and depression. Drinking an ounce of concentrated black cherry juice an hour before sleep, helps in calming the mind and accelerates sound and peaceful sleep. (7)
8. Skin Protection
Regular consumption of black cherry juice defends your skin from being damaged by harmful ultraviolet A and B rays of the sun. Anthocyanins provide protection against skin cancer because of their anti-carcinogen qualities. They also consist of beta-carotene which are beneficial for skin health and protect the skin form sun damage.(8)
9. Combats Hair Loss
Anemia is one of the most common causes of hair loss and to combat this problem you need to incorporate iron rich food in your diet. Black cherry juice is a rich source of iron and hence, regular intake of this juice can cure anemia, thus minimizing hair loss. (9)
10. Reduces Oxidative Stress
Free radicals, if left unchecked, rob the DNA of its electrons, known as oxidation, thus affecting the body’s defense. Antioxidants contained in black cherries reduce oxidative stress by neutralizing the free radicals.
11. Eliminates Migraines
Black cherry juice is also known to help eliminate migraines. Migraines may be caused by inflammation. As we already learned, black cherry juice is a great way to help reduce inflammation.
Mercola states, “By helping reduce inflammation in the body, the anthocyanin and bioflavonoids in cherries also help eliminate migraine headaches. These compounds are known to have similar activity to aspirin and ibuprofen.”
12. Reduce post-exercise muscle soreness
Anthocyanins present in black cherry helps to reduce inflammation, so they can reduce any soreness after a tough workout. Researches have been done in support of this, and found that drinking black cherry juice after exercise reduced muscle soreness and damage. Research showed that muscle soreness was reduced by about 24% 2 days after a workout. Further research found that giving runners black cherry juice 7 days before a running event, and during it, can reduce soreness afterwards.
13. Beneficial for diabetics
Black cherries consist of a lower glycaemic index rating than many other fruits, so they don’t produce a blood sugar spike. They are a good snack choice for diabetics, as it is imperative that those with the condition keep their blood sugar levels as stable as possible.
14. Prevent stomach ulcers
Preliminary evidence suggests that black cherry can help to prevent stomach ulcers. Ulcers are caused by acid eroding the stomach lining. Black cherry can help to regulate digestive juice and acid production, so there is less chance of an ulcer developing.
15. Lower Uric Acid
According to scientific research it has been proven that daily consumption of this wild black cherry juice can reduce the uric acid levels thus causing less pain. It can eliminate the crystals in the joints which build up to form a blockage thus causing tremendous pain. Well, black cherry can fix that and relieve that pain. Because of these health benefits of black cherry, the extracts of this fruit is also known as dark liquid medicine.
Traditional uses and benefits of Black Cherry
- Bark of the root, trunk and branches is antitussive, astringent, pectoral, sedative, stomachic, and tonic.
- Root bark and the aromatic inner bark have expectorant and mild sedative properties and a tea made from either of them has been used to ease pain in the early stages of labor.
- Tea is also used in the treatment of fevers, colds, sore throats, diarrhea etc.
- Decoction of the inner bark has been used in the treatment of laryngitis.
- Root bark has been used as a wash on old sores and ulcers.
- Fruit is astringent and has been used in the treatment of dysentery.
- Inner bark of black cherry is used in the manufacture of cough syrup.
Ayurvedic Health benefits of black Cherry
- Cough: Steep 2 tablespoons of Black Cherry bark in 2 cups of water. Let it stand overnight. Add some Honey for taste and take half cup thrice a day. OR : Add One tablespoon powdered bark to One cup of hot water. Drink warm thrice a day.
- Gout: Have a 1/2 cup of fresh Black Cherry juice daily for two weeks.
- Insomnia: Have 2 tablespoons of fresh Black Cherry juice an hour before sleeping for 10 to 12 days.
- Caries: Have a handful of fresh Black Cherry daily for 15 days. OR : Drink 2 tablespoons of fresh Black Cherry juice daily for 2 weeks.
- Sore muscles: Daily drink a 1/2 cup of Black Cherry juice to curb the soreness of muscles.
- Cancer: Have a half cup of Black Cherry juice to prevent Cancer.
- Obesity: Drink a half cup of fresh Black Cherry juice in the morning. OR : Consume a bowl of Black Cherry daily.
- Asthma: Take Black Cherry bark and Coughwort bark. Prepare a decoction. Drink 2-3 times a day.
- Laxative: Take 3 tablespoons each of Psyllium Husk, Chia seeds and Flax. Soak overnight in a cup of Black Cherry juice. Eat and drink in 3 portions throughout the next day
- Cough: Take 2 tablespoons of powdered Black Cherry bark and Valerian. Also take One tablespoon of each-Dried Ginger, Cinnamon, Fennel seeds and Aniseed. Put all these herbs in 4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Now simmer till it is reduced to half. Strain and add Honey for taste. Take warm.
- An infusion of the twigs is used as a beverage.
- An extract from the bark is used commercially as a flavoring in soft drinks, sweets, syrups and baked goods.
- Fruit was also used to flavor rum and brandy.
- Pitted fruits are edible, and are eaten raw and used in wine and jelly.
- Appalachian pioneers sometimes flavored their rum or brandy with the fruit to make a drink called cherry bounce.
- They are also a popular flavoring for sodas and ice creams.
- Black cherry is commonly used instead of sweet cherries to achieve a sharper taste.
- It is also used in cakes which include dark chocolate, such as a Black Forest gateau and as garnishes for cocktails.
- Wood is also used for cooking and smoking foods, where it imparts a unique flavor.
Tips for picking up the right Black Cherry
When you are going to buy the cherries, you need to keep some points in your mind to get the best quality fruit from the lot.
- If you are going to buy the packaged black cherry from the market, then you need to check the package. The package should be air tied, and you should check the date of packaging the fruit to understand the freshness of the black cherries.
- If you are going to buy the cherries from the farmer’s market, then it is always better to check the skin of the cherries. The black cherries with the soft skin should not be chosen by you.
- Cherries that are attached to the stems should be chosen by you as these can be considered as the fresher ones that the cherries that are detached from the seeds.
- Black cherries should not keep in the sun light or the warm places. It is always better to keep them in the refrigerators or the cold places.
- Package should seal when you are going to store the berries in the refrigerator.
- The medicinal properties of this plant are destroyed by boiling, so the plant should only be allowed to steep in warm water.
- Bark is harvested in the autumn and should not be stored for longer than one year since it quickly loses its medicinal properties.
- Green dye can be obtained from the leaves.
- Dark grey to green dye can be obtained from the fruit.
- Wood is widely used for furniture, cabinet making, the interior finish of buildings etc.
- It is cultivated for its timber in C. Europe.
- Black cherry wood is also used for paneling, interior trim, veneers, handles, crafts, toys, and scientific instruments.
- Trees are sometimes planted ornamentally.
- Seeds and leaves of this species consist of high quantities of hydrogen cyanide, a poison that gives almonds their characteristic flavor.
- Hydrogen cyanide in excess can cause respiratory failure and even death.
- Avoid use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
- Avoid prolonged use.
French Clafoutis black cherry dessert
- 4 cups pitted black cherries
- 4 eggs
- 1/2 cup refined sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup sifted flour
- 1/4 cup melted butter
- 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar
- Clean the cherries with running water, remove the stems and the pits. You can use a cherry pitter to facilitate the process.
- Add four eggs in the mixer and beat at medium speed. Then add the sugar little by little and the salt. Proceed to add the almond and the vanilla extracts and continue mixing.
- Finally add the sifted flour gradually. Then the milk and the melted butter to room temperature.
- Grease a round pan and sprinkle with refined sugar. Cover the mold with the sugar and then pour the custard base preparation for the clafoutis.
- Add the cherries and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes or until golden brown. It is recommended to add a mold with water into the oven for moisture.
Black Cherry Iced Tea
- 2 1/2 quarts water
- 1 pound fresh black cherries, pitted, or two 10-ounce bags frozen pitted black cherries, thawed
- 1 1/4 cups sugar
- 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 whole star anise
- 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
- 16 green-tea bags
- Mint sprigs, for serving
- Bring the water to a boil in a large saucepan.
- Add the black cherries, sugar, lemon juice, star anise and the vanilla bean with its seeds.
- Simmer the cherries over low heat for 15 minutes, crushing them against the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.
- Remove the cherries from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.
- Strain the cherry juice through a fine sieve into a clean saucepan, pressing on the solids.
- Discard the solids. Bring the cherry juice to a boil over moderate heat.
- Remove from the heat, add the tea bags and let steep for 5 minutes.
- Discard the tea bags and let cool to room temperature.
- Transfer the cherry tea to a large pitcher and refrigerate until chilled or for up to 2 days.
- Serve the tea over ice, garnished with mint sprigs.