A small step further for returning traditional sour cherries Vidzeme gardens

01 Jan 1970

October has been significant for the Society Slow Food Straupe and the intention to revive disappearing ancient Latvia sour cherry varieties.

 width=In two public spaces in Vidzeme region –  Lielstraupe Castle garden and Culinary garden of Chef Workshop in Ligatne which are  both significant sites for Slow Food Straupe movement first ten plants of diverse  ancient sour cherry varieties were planted. It took place with assistance of Dr. agr. Daina Feldmane, the leading researcher of sour cherry of The Institute of Horticulture. Also later on Sunday’s Earth Market Straupe the farmers were introduced to story of local ancient sour cherry varieties. Those having the interest for the traditional fruits got a plant of ancient sour cherry varieties themselves for their gardens. There is a hope that these symbolical actions will help to return back sour cherry more and more in orchards in Vidzeme district in the future.

Once sour cherries were typical for gardens in Latvia but in nowadays you will rarely see them in modern gardens. There is historical evidence that in Lielstraupe region sour cherry orchards were known since late 17th century and were widespread in Vidzeme till last century. But due to extremely cold winters and plant illness in the middle of 20th century a lot sour cherry trees were lost. Their place  in gardens now more and more overtake sweet cherry trees, exotic fruit plants as apricots and others from abroad.

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In care of keeping traditional plants the Institute of Horticulture in Latvia has taken under its protection ancient varieties. Its the only place were ancient varieties have been gathered . Altogether there is mentioned five main ancient sour cherry varieties: “Kazdangas”, “The High of Latvia”, “The Low of Latvia”, “Daugmale Glass”and “Zentenes”. Upon a special request of Slow Food Straupe the Institute of Horticulture in this summer grew up the 20 plants of their collection in order to distribute them in Vidzeme farmers gardens again.

Local sour cherry is characterized by its special pleasant sourness and valuable biochemical composition and historically they are suitable for Latvia’s changeable climate. Special sour taste let it be used use in salads, meat dishes and as well as in sweetacid desserts. In order to show sour cherry diverse use in menu and to raise greater interest for use sour cherry in cooking at home and restaurants Chefs of Slow Food Cook Alliance in this project have prepared recipes with sour cherry dishes. Brochure with recipes very soon will be available both in pdf and printable version for public. Let’s hope this  will help to safeguard interest for ancient sour cherry varieties for next generations and maintain cultural and gastronomic heritage of the region.

Photo by Justine Kaleja, Rudite Vasile, Ieva Dreibante

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