Don’t let its petite size fool you the sour cherry is one of the world’s most powerful superfoods. Often mistaken for the larger traditional cherry, the sour cherry is actually more nutritious than its sweeter cousin. One cup of sour cherry juice contains more antioxidants than five servings of peas, tomatoes, watermelons, carrots or bananas.
The U.S. is the second largest producer of these nutrient packed marvels, notably in Traverse City, Michigan. This week the town celebrates the peak of sour cherry season with its annual National Cherry Festival. Traverse City harvests 200,000 lbs. of Montmorency sour cherries during the festival. Events include pit spitting contests, a classic cherry film series and, in 1987 the unveiling of the largest cherry pie ever made — 17 feet in diameter and weighing 28,350 lbs!
Despite their abundance in Traverse City pies, sour cherries can be tricky to find in supermarkets. Check the dried section or the freezer aisle, as these little puckering pleasures are often sold frozen, dried or in juice form. Farmers markets are a better bet if you’re looking for the fresh variety. Most people prefer sprinkling sour cherries with a little sugar to balance the acidity, especially when making preserves or pies. But the sour cherry’s tart kick can be an excellent addition to savory dishes. This Monday why not whip up some sour cherry soup or squeeze sour cherry syrup into your fizzy lemonade.