Happy National Cherry Day! Did you know that Michigan is the nations leading producer of tart cherries? Our state actually accounts for about 74 percent of cherry production. In Michigan, over 90,000 cherries are harvested each year! However, Michigan’s cherry industry is highly vulnerable to a late spring frost, which can wipe out a season’s entire harvest. We actually had this happen to our harvest most recently in 2012. Over 90 percent of the crop was lost.
The Fruit Belt (also called the Fruit Ridge) of western Michigan, and the Grand Traverse Bay region, produce most of the state’s cherries. Traverse City, however, hosts the annual National Cherry Festival each year in July and is also known as the Cherry Capital of the world.
Montmorency tart cherries, the cherry Michigan is the leading producer of in the entire world, have some of the highest levels of disease-fighting antioxidants compared to other fruits in the United States. Research indicates that the juice from this tart cherry may even help improve the quality and duration of sleep. Cherries also contain beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, iron, and fiber; no wonder the Montmorency tart cherry is known as “America’s Superfruit”!
Now, our home state doesn’t just produce tart cherries, it also produces sweet cherries. Sweet cherries are perfect for eating fresh where tart cherries are perfect for baked goods, entrees, smoothies, salads, and plenty of other recipes. That means if you are making a cherry pie… use a tart cherry!
To continue the Cherry Day celebration, learn to make a cherry pie HERE!