Cherries from the Asolani Hills
All the varieties of cherry from the Colli Asolani (Asolani hills) have a strong flavour, sweet but not sickeningly so, long-lasting to the palate and, depending on the type of cultivar, a refreshing note of acidity that has a marked thirst-quenching effect. The cherry is a fruit that is rich in sugars with high levels of vitamins A and C, as well as mineral salts such as phosphorus and calcium. Considerable quantities may be eaten while the caloric intake is modest. The high rates of potassium make this a useful fruit for fighting high blood pressure and cardiopathies; moreover the cherry has an excellent effect on sight, and health and beauty of the skin.
The most typical cultivar is the 'Mora di Maser', which is medium-sized with a spherical shape. The skin is dark red, fairly resistant to handling and reasonably resistant to splitting due to heavy rain. The flesh is pink, consistent and juicy, adherent to the cherry-stone with a short stalk and medium-sized stone. It ripens towards the third week in June. In spite of the typicality of this cultivar, other varieties are preferred for their greater resistance to insects or for their earlier period of ripening such as the Roana (from 28th to 30th May) and Sandra (from 20th to 24th May). The Durone variety has the characteristic of longer picking times.
The best way to appreciate this product at 0 mileage is to visit Maser and the surroundings during the period of the Maser Cherry Festival which boasts up to 7,000 metric quintals of annual production on behalf of the small family-run businesses.
In the kitchen, cherries can be used in a variety of ways: eaten as both fresh fruit and conserved (dried, in a julep, candied, in alcohol) or used as the first ingredient for the preparation of syrups, jams and fruit-juice drinks. Cherries are frequently utilized to make sauces, candied fruit, sherbets, a particular Italian condiment of candied fruit with mustard-flavoured syrup, and numerous liqueurs (for example, cherry brandy, ratafia, maraschino) while in pastry-making and confectionary, they may often be combined with chocolate or used in the preparation of small cakes. Historically speaking, there are some recipes which indicate the use of cherries in combination with savoury dishes, usually as cherry sauce to accompany meat.
Photo by Municipality of Maser