Lari Cherries, to Jam and Jelly
The small town of Lari, in the outskirts of Pisa, Tuscany province, relies on the production of its rediscovered native fruit. So much so that a local Preservation Committee works to protect and promote this cream-of-crops.
The Cherries of Lari
Since the 1950s, cherries have been one of the small-scale agricultural products grown in the town of Lari, a small town in the hills outside Pisa. They have since become a protected product as it is driving the town’s economy. However the cultivation of cherries in this area has a history that dates back much further than the 50s; boasting several centuries. Furthermore the Italian Regional Agency for Development and Innovation in Agriculture (ARSIA) has confirmed several varieties of cherry that are native to this area, and they are now registered with the National Research Council (CNR).
19 Unique Varieties
ARSIA has rediscovered and registered 19 different varieties of cherry, each with unique and interesting names pertaining to their production areas, such as la Usigliana and la Montemagno. Lesser known varieties include la di Girolamo, la Elia and la di Gugluelmo. It is this unique crop diversity, as well as the particularity of Lari’s soil and climate, that form the basis of Lari’s cherry cultivation. The quality of the cherries is also supported through the successive transmission of knowledge through producers, sharing know-how related to production, preservation and packaging. In 2002, a committee for the protection and the promotion of the cherries of Lari was founded, with its aim to see their fruit be awarded Protected Designation of Origin (PDO) or Protected Geographical Indication (IGP). It also deals in co-ordinating between the various cherry producers, as well as efforts to improve production methods and marketing.
Lari Cherries, from Vine to Jar
Annual yields of Lari cherries average more-or-less fifty tonnes, accounting for 0.03% of the Italian market, and as much as 50% of Tuscany’s. They are cultivated in traditional methods, harvested by-hand from a small number of orchards and then sold directly to consumers. A small percentage of these cherries are selected for “transformation” into jam or preserves, all of it home-made. This allows them to make use of many of the native varieties as they are incredibly delicate and unsuitable for shipping. However, there are no facilities in the area which are suited to large-scale processing of cherries into jam or puree. This a problem facing the local cherry businesses. To this end, ARSIA have designated an affiliated processing facility available for use by its committee members for the production of “extra” jam, aside from the home-made jam already on the market.
See also: the Marostica Cherry
and the Vignola Cherry