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In the great variety of environments that make up the volcano Mount Etna you can find a bit of everything: the rocky desert, the forest, the orchard. And if many today identify Etna with fruits such as apples and prickly pears, they should know that there is so much more. For example, there are delicious cherries that are born here and feed on the rich volcanic soil of this spectacular mountain. Summer is the cherry festival, and three quarters of the municipalities of Etna are engaged in the production of this sweet fruit. But the first of all is the municipality of Sant’Alfio. Would you like to know more?

Etna land of cherries

Who started this cultivation right here? This is not known for certain. The local families, though, have handed down the art of cherry production for generations, even if it has only become a real industrial production since the 20th century. The “towns of cherries” are Giarre, Mascali and Sant’Alfio, on the east side of the mountain. But cherry trees are also abundant in the south, in Trecastagni, Pedara, Nicolosi, Biancavilla and Belpasso; and north, in Randazzo and Castiglione. It is not uncommon for them to give “shadow” even to Bronte’s pistachio plants and they can also be found in the districts of Santa Maria di Licodia. Once upon a time, sales took place only with carts, door-to-door or with local markets. Today, however, “the cherry of Etna” is a DOP food brand.

etnacherry2Characteristics of Etna Cherries

Receiving a considerable amount of sun and wind, as well as special nutrients of volcanic origin, the Etna Cherry is the fruit of the Prunus avium L. tree, a sweet ecotype of the Mastrantonio (Donnantonio) variety.

It has a medium size, with a bright red colour, crunchy on the outside and with a very juicy pulp. The typical sour note of cherries is reduced to a minimum here and sweetness prevails instead. The sweetness, however, is balanced and never ends in excessive sugar. This is due to the fact that the changes in the volcanic soil – which swells and deflates periodically – create different elevations and therefore different climate variations for the cherry trees.

Their maturation therefore occurs more slowly than the national average. But this, for fruits, is all plus!

Use and recipes of our cherries

The balanced taste of Etna Cherries makes them suitable for accompanying desserts of all kinds and also savory dishes, especially duck meat and roast beef. They can be eaten raw, or processed in the form of sauce, compote, jam. Oddly enough, in the land that invented granita ice dessert, a cherry-based granita is still a rare experiment. Some cafes do serve it, in the heart of summer, but it doesn’t have the same success as the now universal almond granita!

If you want to enhance the cherries of Etna, here is a sweet summer recipe to try:

Ingredients – 250g of soy yoghurt, 200g of soft cheese, 100ml of cream, apricot jelly (10g), about 30ml of milk, 200g of raspberries, sponge cake, 400g of cherries, 150g of dark chocolate, 100g of sugar , liqueur, mint.
Preparation – Boil the sugar with a little water, together with the raspberries and a little lemon juice. Once cooked, blend and sift. Prepare the cherries by removing the core and stem, dip them in the freshly made raspberry sauce.
Cook the chocolate in a double boiler until it has melted, then spread it on the sponge cake. Leave to cool, then wet the opposite side with the liqueur and spread the chocolate here too. Whip the cream. Heat the jelly and then squeeze it, putting it in a mixture of cheese and yogurt, stirring for a long time. Add the cream to everything.
Prepare the mould, pour this mixture into it and put it in the fridge to rest for a few hours (preferably overnight). Finally, decorate by pouring the raspberry and cherry sauce onto the cold cake. (recipe in detail on ).

Autore: Grazia Musumeci

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