What Is The pH Of Cherries? Are They Acidic Or Alkaline?

Cherries are a beloved summer fruit that add sweetness and flavor to everything from pies to cocktails. But if you’ve ever bitten into a bright red cherry and felt a tangy tartness on your tongue, you may be wondering – are cherries acidic or alkaline? Understanding the pH of foods can provide insight into how they may affect your health.

The pH Scale

pH stands for “potential hydrogen” and is a measure of how acidic or alkaline a substance is. The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14, with 0 representing high acidity, 14 representing high alkalinity, and 7 representing neutral. Most fruits and vegetables tend to be acidic, falling somewhere between 2 and 4 on the pH scale. Alkaline foods typically have a pH of 8 or higher.

Are Cherries Acidic Or Alkaline?

Cherries clock in with a pH ranging from 3.2 to 4.5. This places them firmly on the acidic side of the pH scale. The level of acidity can vary slightly depending on factors like cherry variety and ripeness. But overall, the high malic and citric acid content in cherries gives them a tart, tangy taste and an acidic pH.

Acidity in Different Cherry Types

Tart cherries, like Montmorency cherries used in pie filling, tend to be the most acidic cherry variety. They score around 3.0 to 3.2 on the pH scale. Sweet cherries, like Bing cherries eaten fresh, are mildly less acidic with a pH of 3.2 to 4.5. Sour cherries fall between the two with a pH of 3.0 to 3.4. So while sweet cherries may taste less sharp, all cherry varieties are considered acidic foods.

What Makes Cherries Acidic?

Cherries contain high levels of certain organic acids which give them their low pH. Malic acid and citric acid are the two primary acids found in cherries. These weak acids are what provide the tangy tart cherry taste. Alkaline minerals like potassium, magnesium, and calcium are also present in cherries, but not in sufficient amounts to neutralize the acids. The acidity comes from the cherries’ chemical makeup rather than added acids.

Health Effects of Cherry Acidity

Despite their acidic taste, cherries do provide some important health benefits. As an antioxidant-rich fruit, they can help fight inflammation and protect cells from damage caused by free radicals. The anthocyanins in cherries act as anti-inflammatory agents. And compounds in tart cherries are linked to reduced muscle damage and post-workout recovery.

However, the acidity in cherries can irritate sensitive teeth and aggravate reflux conditions like GERD or acid reflux disease. The acids may also interact with some medications. People with digestive issues may experience discomfort from eating too many acidic fruits. But overall, cherries can be enjoyed in moderation by most healthy individuals.

Impacts on Health

The acids in cherries also deliver health benefits. As an anti-inflammatory, malic acid may relieve joint pain. Tartaric acid boosts the body’s antioxidant capacity. Meanwhile, ascorbic acid offers immune system support.

Acidity also enables the absorption of key nutrients. Vitamin C, potassium, and the carotenoid pigments that give cherries their red hue are more readily absorbed thanks to ample acidity. Plus, it improves iron uptake, making cherries a gut-friendly food.

Effects on Digestion

The high acidity makes cherries easily digestible. Their fruit acids stimulate digestive secretions like saliva, gastric juices, and bile to break down food. This makes cherries unlikely to cause discomfort or bloating.

In fact, their acidity has the opposite effect, potentially soothing digestion. Sour cherries act as natural antacids, helping to relieve heartburn by neutralizing stomach acidity. Compounds like cyanidin may also reduce gut inflammation.

Impact on Taste Interactions

When paired with foods and beverages, cherries’ acidity levels significantly influence flavor. Their bright acidity lifts and enhances fruity, floral notes. Tart cherries mesh well with dark chocolate, strong cheeses, or fatty meats like duck. Sweet cherries complement ingredients like almonds, vanilla, and coconut.

Meanwhile, acidity makes cherries ideal candidates for fermented products. They work wonderfully in wine, beer, cider, vinegar and kombucha for a tangy flavor profile. Fermenting even enhances antioxidant levels.

Acidity allows cherries to mingle with dairy without curdling it, enabling delicious combinations like cherry cheesecake or yogurt smoothies. However, protein-rich ingredients can soften acidity, so pair judiciously with eggs or milk.

Their pH also makes cherries quite flexible for cooking applications. They shine in sauces, jams, compotes and baked goods. Heat diminishes their bright acids, so adjust sugar and spices accordingly. Avoid overcooking to preserve maximum acidity.

Improving the Alkalinity of Cherries

While cherries themselves do not contain enough alkaline minerals to neutralize their innate acids, there are ways to balance out their pH before eating them. Adding a sprinkle of baking soda can make cherries less acidic. Combining cherries with milk, yogurt, or citrus fruits like lemons and oranges can also normalize the pH level.

Cherry juice often has added acids for flavor, making it extra acidic. But you can dilute cherry juice with water or a splash of milk to mellow the tartness. Eating protein foods with cherries, like nuts, seeds, cheese or legumes can also help maintain the acid-alkaline balance in your diet.

How to Use Cherries’ Acidity

Now that you understand cherries’ pH scale, get creative with harnessing their acidity:

  • Choose tart cherries when seeking an extra acid kick or making fermented items. Opt for sweet for a mellower, fruity flavor.
  • Match cherries with ingredients that complement or soften their acidity, like dark chocolate or dairy, respectively.
  • Sprinkle tart cherry juice on meat or fish before cooking for a bright glaze.
  • Use sour cherry puree to make tangy, antioxidant-rich salad dressings and marinades.
  • Mix sweet cherries into batters gently when baking to preserve texture and acidity.
  • Ferment cherries into homemade cherry vinegar for a unique spin on acidity.

Conclusion: A Tart and Tangy Treat

With their vibrant color and unique flavor, cherries are a tasty fruit that adds a burst of summer to the diet. All varieties of cherries fall on the acidic end of the pH scale, thanks to their natural malic and citric acid content.

While acidic, cherries can provide health benefits as an antioxidant-rich food if enjoyed in moderation. Balancing out their pH by eating them with alkaline foods can help minimize acidity issues. So enjoy those tasty tart cherries, but pair them with foods that complement their tangy kick.

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