Northern Hemisphere cherries, the classical sweet or sour cherries which prefer cool climates, originated in Asia Minor, between the Black and Caspian Seas. It was probably birds who spread them to Europe. From the very beginning they were a great success and the Greeks and Romans were among the first to cultivate them. This is easy to understand as cherry trees are among the most beautiful in the world and the fruits among the most loved.
Cherries belong to the genus Prunus of the rose family.
Today they are grown not only in Europe and North America but in Chile and Argentina, wherever winters are cool enough for them. There are basically two types: the sweet cherry, and the tart red cherry. Both have anthocyanins, which they say, help relieve arthritic pains. Tart red cherries are usually processed into juice, jams, jellies, preserves and pie fillings. Dried sour cherries are one of the sweetest and most satisfying snacks.
I would like to mention one of the lesser known, tropical climate cherries: the Surinam cherry or Cerise de Cayenne, which look like bright red Chinese lanterns. They have little in common with their distant cool weather relatives. The taste is unusual and they must be eaten from the tree when very ripe. They make a truly outstanding jelly.
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