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Oh, Sweet Cherry! What you didn’t know about the cherry industry

Nov 10, 2021

Naseerah Nanabhai
10-11-2021

Everyone enjoys indulging in juicy red cherries during summer. This vivid red fruit is an excellent combination of sweet flavours and a tingle of sourness that can add a spectacular dash of flavour and colour to desserts. They can be eaten raw or used in various recipes of cakes, pies, tarts and cheesecakes.

In South Africa, the production of sweet cherries is a small industry, with the bulk of the crop farmed in the cold regions of the Western Cape and some areas of the Free State. The specific climatic requirements of the fruit confines harvesting to certain areas only, but from 2017 to 2018, a 25% surge in planting was reported.

Currently, there are around 30 cherry production units in South Africa, managed by 23 commercial producers, with a total cherry production of just over 1 000 tonnes a year. Most of the cherries produced in South Africa are sold to local markets, with the main export markets being the UK and China.

Labelled as one of the healthiest superfoods, these small red fruits are not only delightful to eat but are a great source of beneficial compounds like fibre, vitamin C, potassium, and polyphenols. We’ve put together a list of some health benefits of cherries:

· Anti-inflammatory benefits- cherries contain plant compounds called anthocyanins and cyanidin, which have anti-inflammatory effects.

· Reduces blood pressure- its high polyphenol content cherry and berry juice may help reduce blood pressure.

· Enhances recovery after exercise- studies suggest that cherry juice appears to aid recovery and muscle function after strenuous exercise.

· Improves sleep- the high concentrations of phytochemicals, including melatonin, help regulate sleep cycles and cure insomnia.

· Helps with gout- studies demonstrated that consuming cherries and cherry juice over two days contributed to a lower risk of gout attacks.

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