a very cherry January

I have fruit categories and I’m guessing you do to, although you might have more useful things on your mind and may not have consciously labelled them until now. Here’s how my categories work…

Day to day fruit is the usual apples and bananas mixed in with whatever is in season – right now we’re all about blood oranges and clementines. This is the stuff you grab as a snack and throw in the shopping basket without much thought.

Then there is free fruit, those of you who have followed me for a while will know I’m obsessed with grabbing free fruit as and when I can. In the summer this may be a fig or a damson snaffled from a tree hanging into my garden or wild strawberries when we’re on a walk. In autumn you’ll find me out risking prickles to get the biggest blackberry. My freezer is always stocked with frozen fruit too – either fruit that I’ve cooked and frozen ready to use in crumbles or on porridge, or bags of ready frozen berries. That way we can enjoy things when they’re no longer in season.

Treat fruit is the stuff we eat with a bit of celebration, things like pineapples, melon, cherries, raspberries and mango. I’m unlikely to ever find any of them when I’m out on a walk but they are a healthy way to inject some sunshine into a gloomy day.

Cherries to help mood, sleep and productivity…as well as being a treat

Recently I was asked to try eating cherries (one of my favourite treat fruits) as part of a study into them helping with mood, productivity and sleep. Cherries help your brain produce the mood-enhancing hormone serotonin and are also a rich food source of the hormone melatonin which promotes healthy sleep patterns. Like most busy working mums, I need help in all of those areas so I joined in and have had a bowl of cherries by my laptop all month.

I’ve had a productive month, I’m not sure how much of that is down to the cherries and how much is down to getting better at saying no to things that won’t help me get what I need done. What I do know is that having the cherries has made me happier as they’ve made me feel like I’m having a treat without piling into the biscuits during the dreaded 3pm slump.

The best ways to eat cherries

Like most fruits, the joy of eating cherries is to keep things simple – washed and in a bowl with a few droplets of water clinging to their purple PVC-like skins. The simple pleasure for me is in biting off the stem and spitting the stone out. I wish I could tie a knot in a cherry stem with my tongue but after a few weeks in my early teens trying to emulate Audrey from Twin Peaks, I gave up on that. In our summer picnics we have games to see who can spit their cherry stones the furthest. That’s the level of class I operate with. Nigel Slater says you should serve them in a bowl of ice but he clearly has better ice management systems in his freezer as my ice is saved for G&Ts.

If you are lucky enough to have a glut of cherries and are looking for a way to cook them, then I’d recommend you have a bash at my easy sponge cake. 

easiest cake

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I was gifted a small amount of cherries by Love Fresh Cherries as thanks for taking part in the study. I would never work with or recommend a company whose product I did not really love and which I would not have in my own kitchen.