George Washington just might have known about the benefits of cherries when he chopped down the cherry tree. They are used to fight inflammation, allergies, hay fever, gout and arthritis. Its extract has a strong cherry aroma and flavor, and it can be used in a variety of ways. It is available in both natural and artificial forms and also has been found to have natural health benefits.
Raw cherries and cherry extract both offer anti-inflammatory benefits, help fight free radicals, and neutralize uric acid. Cherry extract is more concentrated and is more similar in functioning as an anti-inflammatory drug, an antihistamine and certain anti-asthma drugs.
Both natural and artificial cherry extract are available. The artificial product is made with flavor compounds which are designed to resemble cherries, and it can have a syrupy or sweet flavor. Natural product is made when cherries are soaked in alcohol, drawing out the flavor and aroma of cherries. Most often, cherries are soaked in vodka for several weeks and then strained. In either case, whole fruit is used so that the flavors in the pits will also seep into the extract; people can also make cherry extract at home by covering cherries in a neutral alcohol like vodka and allowing them to soak for several weeks before straining the mixture.
It is rich in antioxidants, which help combat conditions such as cataract, arthritis, Parkinson’s disease and arteriosclerosis. Natural cherry extract also can help fight inflammation, such as gout, because it neutralizes uric acid, which causes pain in joints. It also can be beneficial for those with hay fever and allergies.
Like other fruit extracts, the alcohol in cherry extract burns off very quickly, leaving the flavor behind. These versions are typically artificial, and cooks may want to experiment with several brands to find the right flavor. The extract-making almond contains benzaldehyde, and this is what gives it its flavor. Benzaldehyde is also found in cherries, as well as apricots, peaches, and plums. Non-alcoholic versions are available for people who wish to avoid using alcohol products for religious or dietary reasons. If an extract is too sweet, it can be given a more tart note with fresh lemon or lime juice.
Cherry extract can also be added to ice cream, milkshakes, and mixed drinks, and some savory recipes call for it. This flavoring can be added to cakes, pies, muffins, cookies, and so forth, and it may also be used to make cherry icing as well. Raw cherries and cherry extract both provide many health benefits, and both can alleviate pain and symptoms that accompany many inflammatory conditions. Life is not just a bowl of cherries anymore, it also is an extract.