Sweet cherries date from prehistoric
times in Asia.
Pliny, the Elder (AD 23 - 79), that fine Roman lover of
the natural world, tells us that there were no cherry-trees in Italy
until 74 B.C, but that in the following 120 years, they crossed the
ocean and "spread as far as Britain." Defining the different
trees, he mention the Lusitanian cherry, the Macedonian cherry and the
Junian cherry. "The Junian cherry has a pleasant taste, but only
if eaten under its tree, since it is so tender that it cannot stand
being transported." Oh, to taste that Junian cherry while under
a tree in Italy.
Despite Pliny's claims of the wide
travels of cherries, the lovely fruit waited until the 15th century to
become popular in Germany, France and England.
Across the ocean, cherries
were in America early enough to develop distinct species by the time
the colonists arrived. Today the United States is the largest producer
of cherries in the world.
The story of George Washington, unfortunately
may notbe true. The story of George, axe and cherry tree was created
by Parson Weems in a book entitled The Life of George Washington; With
Curious Anecdotes, Equally Honorable to Himself and Exemplary to His
Young Countrymen. Perhaps the story was invented to teach youngsters
to not lie. Whether the story's influence has been all-pervasive is
questionable, but we hope that cherry trees have been spared.
The modern variety of cherries began when a
group of nurserymen made their way across the Oregon Trail in the mid-1800's
to discover the perfect climate for growing cherries. The Bing cherry
was named after the Manchurian foreman and friend of the first growers.
Cherries are a seasonal fruit, one that has defied proliferation throughout the year. This makes them more of a treat. Canned cherries are popular for holiday pies and baked goods. Today we can find dried cherries in most health food stores to enjoy their nutritional benefits the year round.
Work with small amounts (3 to 5
pounds) of Northwest fresh sweet cherries to allow for quick handling
and freezing. Select firm, ripe Northwest sweet cherries. Rinse and
drain cherries thoroughly. Pack according to preferred method and freeze
Whole cherries with stems: Spread cherries
with stems intact in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until
firm. Pack into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags; remove
excess air, cover or fasten tightly and freeze.