Cherries grow on small to medium-sized trees, producing fruits that hang in clusters. They are generally categorized into two main types: sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and tart or sour cherries (Prunus cerasus). The sweet varieties, like Bing or Rainier, are typically enjoyed fresh, while tart varieties, like Montmorency, are often used in cooking and baking. The Evans Cherry, a cultivar of sour cherry, is particularly notable for its ability to thrive in Alberta's colder climate. Its fruits are medium-sized, with bright red skin and a delightful tartness, making them excellent for a range of culinary applications.
Cherries have ancient roots, with historical records suggesting they were consumed by prehistoric people in Europe and Asia. Their cultivation spread through ancient civilizations, becoming popular in Roman, Greek, and Chinese cultures. Fast forward to Alberta's context: the Evans Cherry's story is fascinating. Originally thought to be native to the region, it was later revealed that the variety was introduced, possibly by Russian settlers or through other means. This cherry gained popularity when plant breeder Ieuan Evans recognized its potential in the 1970s and began promoting it. Named after him, the Evans Cherry soon became a favourite among gardeners and farmers in Alberta, appreciated for its frost resistance and the delicious tart cherries it produces.
Cherries, including the Evans variety, are versatile in the kitchen. Fresh cherries can be washed and eaten straight from the tree, their juicy sweetness bursting with every bite. When it comes to tart cherries like Evan's, they shine in pies, tarts, and jams, their tanginess perfectly balancing the sweetness of added sugars. These cherries also make exceptional sauces and compotes, which can accompany both desserts and savoury dishes, such as roasted meats.
Cherry juices and concentrates, often derived from tart cherries, are touted for their health benefits and can be enjoyed as beverages or mixed into smoothies. Evan's Cherries can also be preserved by canning or freezing, ensuring a year-round supply. Drying cherries results in chewy, sweet-tart morsels that can be added to cereals, baked goods, or trail mixes.
With a balance of sweetness and tartness, cherries, especially those hardy varieties like the Albertan Evans cherry, bring a touch of summer delight to any dish or occasion.
Billyco Junction Gardens
Billyco Junction Ltd., RR260, Lacombe, AB, Canada
D & A Gardens
DNA Gardens, Range Rd 230, Elnora, AB, Canada
The Berry Farm (at Christie's Corner)
52002 Range Road 232, Sherwood Park, AB T8B 1B3, Canada
The Saskaberry Ranch
The Saskaberry Ranch, Township Road 324, Mountain View County, AB, Canada