AUGUST sees the arrival of cherries, redcurrants and raspberries for a true taste of summer, while crisp, fresh-tasting greens, infused with some of the yellow varieties, conjure up great tasting summer salads or vegetable pies, ideal for barbecues and picnics.

Cherries were introduced to Britain over 2,000 years ago. They are thought to have been discovered about 70 BC by the Romans in Asia.

Throughout the 15th and 16th century they were celebrated for their medicinal properties.

Kent, the garden of England', was once teeming with wonderful cherry orchards, but like apple orchards, sadly, many have been pulled up over the years. The good news is that cherries are making a comeback, especially in Kent and Herefordshire.

There are over a 1,000 varieties of cherries. The sour varieties, such as Morello, are a perfect match with the sweetness of chocolate - the darker the cherry the more antioxidants it contains.

While we recognise blueberries as a popular superfood', it might come as a surprise to discover that tart cherries (like Morello) contain 19 times as much beta carotene as blueberries. They are also rich in vitamin C.

Cherries are also one of the few food sources of melatonin, a strong antioxidant that helps regulate our natural sleep patterns known as circadian rhythms'. So if you have trouble sleeping, eating a few cherries every evening might just do the trick!

Research on the health benefits of sour cherries suggest they may help prevent cancer, in particular colon cancer. This is because they contain good amounts of anthocyanins and cyanidin, types of flavonoids' contained in plants. Anthocyanins are the same substances that give cherries their distinctive red colour and, as well as helping to prevent cancer, they're thought to have anti-inflammatory properties (so may help with arthritis) as well as anti-ageing properties.

One of the most interesting pieces of research suggests that overweight people or those with type 2 diabetes can enjoy the sweet taste of cherries without worrying about their blood sugar levels. Cherries have been found to have a low glycemic index (GI) score, which means they only produce a mild rise in blood sugar levels. Good news if you're trying to lose weight or stabilise blood sugar levels.

Cherry facts In 1951, around 18,000 acres in England were planted with cherries, by 2004 it was less than a 1,000 acres.

Cherries are quite difficult to grow, labour-intensive to pick and vulnerable to bad weather. Farmers tend to specialise in small varieties that are less vulnerable and produce good yields more quickly.

Hot cherry stones were once used in bed-warming pans. Why not make your own: save cherry stones, wash thoroughly and remove the pulp, dry them out and sew into a small pillow made from a sturdy material. Ten minutes before bedtime, pop the pillow into your oven, or for a few minutes in the microwave.

Frozen Cherry Yoghurt

Serves 4 - Ingredients:

  • 450g cherries
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 150ml fresh double cream
  • 300ml low-fat natural yoghurt
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 level tbsp icing sugar
  • 125g mascarpone


Reserve 4 cherries with stalks for decoration. Remove the stalks and stones from the rest then simmer these with the caster sugar in 160ml water for 6 minutes. Strain off the juices and reserve.

Puree the remaining cherries, sieve and leave to cool slightly.

Lightly whip the cream until it holds its shape. Stir the cream and yogurt into the cherry puree.

Whisk the egg whites until stiff and glossy. Add the icing sugar and continue whisking for a further 2 minutes or until it forms stiff peaks and then fold into the cherry, cream and yoghurt mixture.

Pour into a freezer container and freeze.

When ready to serve, make the topping: spoon 2 tbsp of the reserved juices into the mascarpone and mix well. Spoon the frozen cherry yogurt into glasses and top with a spoonful of the cherry mascarpone, followed by a cherry to decorate.