Cherries got their start in the areas of ancient Turkey and Greece, which makes their way to Rome around 72 BC. They’re in exactly the exact same fruit family as peaches, plums, apricots, and almonds.
While a lot people combine cherry blossoms with Japan, interestingly, the majority of those gorgeous blossoms don’t turn into fruit. Edible cherry producing trees have been brought in the West in the late 1800s (believe what they had been missing all those centuries). However, Japan doesn’t appreciate the fruit as we do, and pies are definitely not on many menus.
In the united states, due to their lovely blossoms, cherry trees have been planted by settlers up and down the Northeast shore. Early French and Dutch immigrants planted tens of thousands in the NY city area in addition to points west, in what is now Michigan. When George Washington supposedly chopped down a cherry tree, he just might have started the ball rolling.
There are essentially two different types –sweet and sour. They’ve a relatively short growing season and aren’t particularly hearty trees. The U.S. is the second biggest producer of cherries at 300,000 tons annually, following top manufacturer, Turkey, which weighs in with 460,000 tons. Northwest and Midwest states grow the majority of cherries, Traverse City, Michigan reigns as the cherry capital of the world and holds a enormous festival annually. Famous for their sour cherries, they feature the world’s largest cherry pie annually (bring your own vanilla ice cream). The wood of cherry trees is a favorite form for furniture in the U.S.
French chefs have given their seal of approval (what more validation do you require?) And use cherries as a sauce for roast duck, flaming desserts (jubilee), crepe fillings and a favorite tart called clafoutis. Americans love their pies, and cherry takes a back seat to classic apple, it ranks in the top 5. And we love them in more ways than one:
Snacking dried or fresh
Chocolate coated candy
wine and liqueur
Not only are cherries good for eating and cooking, but they also tout health benefits too, including anti inflammatory and anti-inflammatory advantages, decrease risk of gout, promote better sleep, lower uric acid, all demonstrated by research at Mayo Clinic and others. Even though the season is short, they are easily available year-round in canned and frozen forms, and a few markets and health food markets sell juice and dried cherries.
The hottest sweet varieties include Rainier, Bing, and Lambert, the sour varieties belong to Royal Anne, Montmorency, Morello and Early Richmond. However, foodie president Thomas Jefferson, who was an avid gardener and horticulturist, cultivated a variety which he considered to be the best, known as”Carnation.” In general, he planted two varieties of cherry trees in his enormous orchard, together with plum, peach, apple and apricot trees. He also planted numerous carnation cherry trees along several walkways at Monticello, because of their highly fragrant blossoms. A sweet dark selection, it was particularly prized for eating fresh. Other varieties he integrated into his cooking. (When neighbor George Washington came to see, were guards posted in the orchard entry?)
So, whatever shirts your hit parade, be it sweet or sour, fresh, baked or sauced, they are among America’s most beloved fruits. Cherries. Have a bowl.