Black Republican Cherries
Inventory, lb : 0
This item was last sold on : 07/12/21
|Food Buzz: History of Cherries|
Black Republican cherries are a small to medium-sized varietal bearing a round to ovate shape with a slight, curved depression on the stem end. The fruit’s skin is thin, smooth, taut, and glossy, showcasing dark red, purple, to almost black hues. The fruits are also connected to a slender and thin, green, fibrous stem. Underneath the surface, the pigmented, dark purple to red flesh is firm, aqueous, and succulent, encasing a central, semi-freestone tan pit. Black Republican cherries contain a robust, concentrated flavor with fruity, earthy, and tart notes. Some consumers also report the cherries to have subtle flavor nuances of herbs, almonds, and roses.
Black Republican cherries are available in the early summer, with a peak season in mid-June.
Black Republican cherries, botanically classified as Prunus avium, are a rare sweet American cultivar belonging to the Rosaceae family. The heirloom variety was developed in the late 19th century and was one of the first widespread commercial cultivars that originated in the Pacific Northwest. Black Republican cherries were once favored by growers for their intensely pigmented flesh, vibrant juice, rich, fruity flavor, productive nature, and transportability. The variety is also one of the parents of the famous bing cherry. This cultivar quickly overshadowed Black Republican cherries in commercial production, valued for their larger size and flavor. Black Republican cherries fell out of favor in the 20th century due to their small size and occasional astringency if not carefully cultivated. In the modern-day, Black Republican cherries are not commercially grown and are challenging to find in farmer’s markets. The trees are mainly used as a pollinator to increase yields in orchards for other varieties such as napoleon, lapins, rainier, and black tartarian. The variety is also listed on Slow Food’s Ark of Taste, an organization that seeks to preserve and protect varieties in danger of becoming extinct.
Black Republican cherries are an excellent source of anthocyanins, compounds found within the pigments of the fruit that contain antioxidant-like properties to reduce inflammation and protect the cells against free radical damage. The fruits also provide vitamins A and C to strengthen the immune system, potassium to balance fluid levels within the body, vitamin K for faster wound healing, and other amounts of fiber, iron, calcium, copper, manganese, and magnesium.
Black Republican cherries have a concentrated, fruity flavor well suited for both raw and cooked preparations. The cherries can be consumed straight, out of hand, or they can be chopped into salsa, tossed into green salads, or sliced into fruit salads. They can also be pressed into juices, used to make cordials, blended into smoothies, infused into vinaigrettes, stirred into oatmeal, or used as filling in lettuce wraps. It is important to note that the pigmented juice will stain skin and clothing, so care should be taken when preparing the fruits. In addition to fresh preparations, Black Republican cherries retain their flavor and color in cooked applications. The fruits can be blended into sauces and chutney for roasted meats, infused into syrups, or incorporated as a secret ingredient into homemade barbeque marinades and dips. Black Republican cherries can also be simmered into jams and preserves, baked into cobblers, pies, bread, pudding, and tarts, or mixed into yogurt and ice cream for added color and flavor. Black Republican cherries pair well with other fruits, including raspberries, blueberries, watermelon, apples, and peaches, dried cranberries, rhubarb, meats such as poultry, turkey, and pork, and spices including allspice, ginger, and cardamom. The fruits will keep up to one week when stored as dry as possible in the coldest part of the refrigerator with good air circulation. Black Republican cherries can also be frozen, dried, or canned for extended use.
Black Republican cherries were named by horticulturist Seth Lewelling. The term “Black Republican” was widely used to describe members of the Republican party who were against slavery in the 1860s. The term was sometimes used as a slur against abolitionists and politicians, but abolitionists remarketed the term as a statement supporting human rights and equality. One of the most famous political figures associated with the term was Abraham Lincoln. The politician was often labeled as a part of the Black Republican movement during his presidential campaign. During this time, Seth Lewelling chose the name for the cherry varietal in honor of his quaker roots and abolitionist viewpoints, using the cherries to make a political statement against slavery during the Civil War. It has also been stated that Lewelling participated in the underground railroad, but there is no evidence to support or deny this claim. The name Black Republican was meant to symbolize freedom for all against slavery and injustice.
Black Republican cherries were developed by Seth Lewelling in the Willamette Valley in Oregon in 1860. The variety’s parentage is unknown, with experts hypothesizing that it could have been a hybrid of black tartarian, eagle, or napoleon cherries. Legend has it that Seth’s brother, Henderson, transported several varieties of cherry trees in his wagon as he traveled along the Oregon Trail in 1847. Enhancing the story's folklore, many tales include facts about how the trees in his covered wagon saved him from being attacked along the treacherous route. Seth Lewelling eventually followed in his brother’s footsteps and joined him in Oregon, where they began planting and breeding fruit trees. The creation and cultivation of Black Republican cherries marked a pivotal point in the history of the fruit industry in the Pacific Northwest as the variety became commercially popular. Seth Lewelling continued cherry cultivation, later creating the bing cherry, which quickly overshadowed Black Republican cherries in demand and production in the early 20th century. Today Black Republican cherries are a rare cultivar primarily used for pollination of other commercial varieties in orchards. The pigmented fruits are grown on less than 200 acres along the west coast, especially in the Hood River and Dalles districts in Oregon. When in season, Black Republican cherries are mostly found in home gardens and are occasionally sold through farmer’s markets in Oregon, California, and Washington.
Recipes that include Black Republican Cherries. One is easiest, three is harder.
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