Anti-Cancer Food Spotlight: Sour Cherries

Photo by: Bev Sykes

Summer is officially here, and anyone who makes a trip to their local farmer’s market will know what that means: it’s time to start looking for sour cherries! With an extremely short season (sour cherries are at their peak in June and July), cherries have a number of breast cancer risk-reducing benefits and are a great example of an anti-cancer food.

Anthocyanins are flavonoids found in high concentrations in sour cherries. They are what give the cherries their bright red hue, but anthocyanins also have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and chemo preventative properties as well. Anthocyanins slow the growth of premalignant cells, and encourage apoptosis, which makes the cancerous cells die faster. Tart cherries also contain melatonin which may help reduce the risk of breast cancer by regulating estrogen throughout the body.

Now that you know how sour cherries work for you, here’s how you can work them into your summer snacking:

Chilled Cherry Soup

  • 1 lb. pitted sour cherries
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tbsp. sugar
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 tbsp. flour
  • 3 tbsp. water
  • 1 c. heavy sour cream


  1. Boil cherries, sugar and salt in water about 20 minutes or until soft.
  2. Mix 3 Tbs of water with flour, and add to cherries.
  3. Allow to boil for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Remove from heat, add sour cream and stir until well combined.
  5. Let cool in fridge for 1 hour before serving.

Sour Cherry Granita

  • 2 pounds fresh pitted sour cherries
  • 1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar


  1. Set a bowl under a colander and drain cherries, reserving all the liquid.
  2. Puree cherries in a food processor or blender.
  3. Run the puree through a fine strainer, pressing the cherries with a spoon to extract all the juice. If there are large chunks of cherries in the juice, strain it again.
  4. Add any liquid reserved at the beginning, as well as vinegar to the juice and set aside.
  5. Combine sugar with 2/3 C. water and cook over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Allow this to sit and cool.
  6. Mix juice with sugar syrup and pour into a metal pan large enough to accommodate all the liquids.
  7. Place in freezer for 1 hour, or until ice crystals start to form around edges.
  8. Using a fork, stir the ice into the center of the dish, then refreeze.
  9. Continue stirring once an hour until all liquid has frozen and has a grainy consistency, this usually takes about 5 hours.

Cherry Pistachio Crisp

  • 1 ¾ pounds pitted fresh sour cherries
  • ½ C. chopped unsalted pistachios
  • ½ C. and 2 Tbs. all purpose flour
  • 1/3 C. old fashioned rolled oats
  • ¼ Tsp. baking powder
  • ¼ Tsp. and a pinch of salt
  • 6 Tbs. unsalted butter, softened
  • 3 Tbs. packed light-brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup cane sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon


  1. Preheat oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix butter, brown sugar, and ¼ C. cane sugar with an electric mixer until creamy.
  3. Add baking powder, salt, flour, oats, and pistachios. Mix until combined.
  4. Work the mixture through your fingers until it forms coarse crumbs. The crumbs should be no smaller than a pea and no larger than a gum ball.
  5. Set aside topping and mix cherries, cornstarch, and remaining sugar together.
  6. Add a pinch of cinnamon and a pinch of salt.
  7. Pour cherry mixture into an 8 inch square baking dish, and sprinkle topping over cherries.
  8. Bake until top turns golden and cherry juice is bubbling up. (Usually about an hour)

Let us know, in the comments below, if you tried one of these recipes and how they tasted!