Prairie cherries are one of my favourite new crops. Developed by Dr. Bob Bors of the University of Saskatchewan in Saskatoon, the may revolutionize fruit growing in Canada’s western provinces.
Sour cherries are not a new crop for North Americans. What is new is the range climates that this intensely flavorful fruit can now be grown. Thanks to a generous dose of Mongolian genetics, cultivars released over the last decade are not only hardier, but more intensely coloured and flavored as well. These bushes, rather than the full-fledged trees we’re familiar with in regions like Niagara and the Okanagan, are more at home in the harsh continental steppes of Asia than the pampered easy-living climes of typical fruit growing regions, which bodes well for land-locked Canadians.
The deep burgundy colour of the fruit betrays particularly high nutraceutical anthocyanin content, and is perfect for pies, preserves, toppings, ice cream and gelato. They are absolutely and utterly delicious on top of fresh biscuits. These hardy Prairie cherries go under names like “Carmine Jewel”, “Juliet”, “Cupid” and “Romeo”, and are available at garden centers across the country, or directly from the propagators. To taste them check out the Regina Farmers Market (in season) and Over the Hill Orchards, one of Food Day Canada’s great participants.
Author: Peter Reimer, University of Saskatchewan Fruit Programme