Where Cherries Are From
Cakes, ice creams, pastries and milk shakes are great but even better and made more special when served with cherry on top.
Cherries are from the Rosaceae family, of genus Prunus and are a fleshy drupe or stone fruit. Commercially harvested edible cherries are produced from very few varieties namely the sweet cherry (Prunus avium), sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) and the duke (Prunus gondouinii) which is a hybrid between the sweet and sour cherries.
What is the origin of cherries?
The word “cherry” came from the old Northern French word “cherise” derived from the Latin word “cerasum” referring to an antiquated Greek region Kerasous where cherries were first thought to be imported to Europe.
Although most cherries are indigenous to the Northern Hemisphere with the greatest concentration found in eastern Asia, it is believed that cultivated cherries are from Western Asia and Eastern Europe, specifically the area from the Caspian Sea to the Balkans.
Cultivated cherries first arrived in North America in “New Netherland”, an early settlement in Brooklyn, New York when it was still under the Dutch governmental control.
Cherry trees are grown in areas where the weather is mild and temperate. These areas do not have not have harsh or extremely cold winters or torridly hot summers.
Sweet cherry trees are large, upright and can grow up to 36 ft in height. The fruits are firm, about one inch in diameter and are fleshy drupes that are typically heart-shaped to nearly globular with colors varying from yellow to red to nearly black. Sweet cherries are succulent and have the mildest tinge of tart.
Popular Sweet Cherry Varieties:
- Bing Cherry – A dark-red sweet cherry that is a grafted offspring of Black Republican cherry by horticulturist Seth Lewelling and Chinese foreman Ah Bing, for which it was named. Bing cherries are relatively large, heart-shaped fruits that are smooth, shiny and have a deep red coloring. The flesh of Bing Cherries is firm yet luscious and are extremely sweet and tangy. The Bing Cherry is a flawless cherry when it comes to flavor and texture. This type of cherry is available from mid-spring to mid-summer.
- Rainier Cherry – A blush sweet cherry that is easily distinguished from other cherry fruits by the golden hues with pink blush skin and high sugar levels. It was developed in 1952 by Harold Fogle by cross breeding “Bing” and “Van” red cherries at Washington State University and named it after Mount Rainier, a large stratovolcano in Washington State. Rainier cherries or “white cherries” are sinfully sweet, low in acid and have a caramel-like finish. Rainier cherries are available from May until early August.
- Benton Cherry – This cherry was developed at the Washington State University Prosser Research Center. Benton cherries are dark red sweet cherries that are bigger than Bing cherries. The fruit is large, firm and superior in flavor. In addition it has a lower propensity to cracking as compared to Bing cherries. This type of cherry is self-fertile.