Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Meteor Cherries: They're Out of This World!

Anyone else fascinated by the seemingly millions (well, at least hundreds or maybe dozens) of contest categories at the Minnesota State Fair? I can't walk through the Agricultural or the Creative Activities building without thinking gee, maybe next year I should work on becoming the state's foremost expert on baking some obscure type of pastry, or at the very least try my hand at raising a record-breaking turnip. And maybe one of these years I will. But for now, I'll enjoy looking at the fruits of other people's labors... in this case, that fruit being the meteor cherry.

While skimming the various categories in the Ag-Hort premium booklet, the "meteor cherry" description caught my eye. As any cherry connoisseurs out there can already probably tell, I don't know much about cherries. I know I like to eat them, and I know that they look awfully pretty growing on trees. But I've never heard of a meteor cherry, let alone what makes them special (other than the super-cool name.) So, for the benefit of any other cherry-challenged folks out there who want to know what it takes to bring home the blue in Minnesota State Fair Ag-Hort lot #777 -- besides one pint of perfection, that is -- here's the inside scoop.

The meteor cherry is a type of dwarf sour cherry, cold-hardy and (obviously) grow in Minnesota. They're tart, bright red, and bigger than North Star cherries (which I have tried). They are a true home-grown fruit, having been first bred in 1952 by William Aldermann at the Fruit Breeding Farm in Excelsior, Minnesota, and introduced to the cherry-growing public by the University of Minnesota. Its lineage traces back to France and Russia, with one of its parent cherry varieties having made its way to this county in 1830. I haven't yet been able to figure out how they got their name, but I'd like to think it's because these cherries make for an astronomically good cherry pie.

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