Did you know that Turkey is one of the largest producers of cherries in the world?
As a matter of fact, there are many varieties of cherries – white, red, sweet and sour – that are grown throughout the Aegean, Western Anatolian and Black Sea regions of Turkey.
But it is a sweet variety that is one of the country’s most well known exports and, as a result, lucky people all over the world can also enjoy these plump, juicy fruit.
Nif – Arpacık
High in the mountains near Fethiye, at an altitude of 900 feet above sea level, is the village of Nif – also known as Arpacık. The cooler temperatures and higher rainfall make the village an ideal location for growing enormous, deep red, glossy, juicy cherries.
Although the cherry season is short, lasting only a few weeks, the villagers in Nif are proud of their harvest. Indeed, they are so proud, ever year they organise a celebratory festival.
This year the 19th Nif Cherry Festival takes place on 6-7 July 2019 with performances from Ankaralı Yasemin and Ali Tunç on the final day.
A mountain of cherries
In Turkey, sweet cherries are called ‘kiraz’ (keer-AHZ) and the sour ones are called ‘vişne’ (VEESH’-nay).
The most common, as well as the most popular variety in Turkey, is a sweet variety known as the Napoleon cherry. These are large, and a glossy, deep red, heart-shaped fruit with a firm texture and packed with flavor.
From late May until the middle of August (if we are lucky) you can find mountains of juicy cherries in the local markets.
Alternatively, if you visit Nif you can buy them from the side of the road… even better!
Sweet cherries are eaten as is, whereas sour ones are used in cooking, especially for desserts and jams. They’re also used for making one of Turkey’s signature drinks, a sour cherry juice called ‘vişne suyu’ (VEESH-nay soo-YOO).
How to make Turkish sour cherry nectar
You can make vişne suyu (sour cherry nectar) at home. All you need are fresh or frozen sour cherries, some sugar and lemon and you’re ready to go. Make sure to serve your sour cherry nectar ice cold.
The cherry on the cake
To make the most of the relatively short season, combined with the fact that we know how difficult it is to resist buying every time you see them, here are some more wonderful recipes.
And last but not least …not only are fresh cherries delicious, they are good for you too!
Sour cherries are full of vitamin A, vitamin C, fiber, manganese, and copper.
Sweet cherries contain vitamin C, anthocyanin antioxidants, and melatonin, an antioxidant that fights insomnia and jet lag.
What are you waiting for?