Black cherry: the sweet taste of early summer
The black cherry, of the Prunus Avium family, is the sweet cousin of the sour cherry, Prunus Cerasus. Cherries are the first pit fruits of the summer. It’s estimated that there are over 600 varieties of sweet cherries, including black cherries, of which the best-known in the English-speaking world are Bings, Chelons, Sweethearts and Tulanes. They are rich in natural sugars and tannins and are appreciated as table fruits and base ingredients for jams and pastries. The Romans or Greeks first brought cherries to Europe from the Caspian Sea, mainly using sour varieties to accompany meat-based dishes until the Middle-Ages, but little by little, the sweet black cherry, became a dessert fruit and a base for sweet condiments. Cherries also traveled east to China and Japan and, of course, their blooming flowers have become central to celebrating spring in Japan, as well as Washington, DC. In France, Louis XV loved the fruit and boosted its cultivation, also encouraging artisans to use its hard and regular wood for his elaborate style of furniture. The cherry became the royal fruit par excellence, replacing the strawberry of which Louis XIV, his great grandfather, had been the great defender. The cherry moved across the ocean to North America in the 16th Century and black cherries are today mainly grown in the western parts of the US and Canada. High in vitamin A, B et C content, rich in trace minerals such as a potassium, magnesium and calcium, they are among the healthiest of fruits. Their sweet, juicy flavor, their deep color and distinctive aroma make cherries the very epitome of the start of summer.