Sour cherries may be less well known than their sweet counterparts, but they can still create high impact food and beverage products, thanks to their unique taste and health benefits. Sour cherry is more acidic than sweet cherry and offers an alternative flavour for consumers wanting an extra kick. Tart cherry and Greek yoghurt anyone?
But modern food and beverage manufacturers were not the first to discover the benefits of sour cherries. They have a long history of being used – as far back as 300 BC. Now, the fruit is native to most of Europe and South West Asia, with the Lutowka and Oblacinska sour cherry being the most popular types used in the food and beverage industry. Similar to sweet cherries, the sour variety is grown on trees of 4-10 m, on twiggy branches, with almost-black cherries on shorter stalks.
Sour cherries are not just great-tasting, they’re healthy, too. As you can tell from their vibrant colour, they have a high melatonin content – a compound that can regulate the human sleep-wake cycle. Sour cherries also boast one of the highest amounts of antioxidants of any food, making it a top choice to develop products with an added healthy halo. Don’t forget the humble fruit’s anti-inflammation and anti-microbial effects.
So, how do sour cherry ingredients work in practice? Some regions in the South East Mediterranean produce long syrups used in liqueurs and drinks. Sour cherry juices and pies are an all time consumers favourite and Belgians even use the ingredient for a fruity finish to their famous kriek beers.
Sour cherries’ tart taste makes them the ideal companion for sweeter food and beverages. Pairing sour cherry with dark chocolate or coconut in a cereal bar, or with vanilla in chocolate, is an appealing treat with added yin-yang. Or look to the East for flavour inspiration, green, jasmine, rooibois and black tea all work well with sour cherry in a refreshing cold beverage.
Find out how sour cherry can add an unexpected element to your food and drink products by speaking to one of our experts.
Dejan Trifunović, SVZ Business Intelligence Manager