The Ermstal Clingstone cherry is a variety from the Neckar-Alb region. The regional growers also referred to it as the “heart cherry” in a literal translation (Herzkirsche). Traditionally, the wives of the fruit growers from Dettingen, a town near Erms, would walk with a wicker basket full of cherries on their heads to the markets in Urach, Reurlingen, or even up to sixty km away to Ulma. In this city people often washed the cherries with water from the main square’s fountain, to remove any eventual worms before selling the fruit. The cherries were shipped via train as far away as Bavaria: they were transported in wicker baskets covered in sheets to protect the fruit, as it is a delicate product.
This cherry tree grows quickly and forms a large canopy which is tall and wide. It doesn’t begin producing fruit until after a few years of favorable conditions, but when it does the numbers are massive. The cherries themselves are small and black and mature quite late, towards the end of the usual growing season for this fruit, but they are also long lasting. The fresh or dried cherries are used to make some of the more sought after pastries from the region. Thanks to its intense fragrance and high sugar content, the cherry is used to make spirits, liqueurs, and juices, but it is also eaten as dried fruit and in jams. There are even some wines that are enriched with this cherry’s aroma.
Today the Ermstal clingstone cherry is considered too small for the market, and thus it has become unprofitable for the growers. Another disadvantage for this fruit is that it tends to fall off the tree before maturing. For these reasons the Ermstal clingstone cherries are not often found in the weekly markets around the region. There are only a few young growers who have decided to grow this cherry today. This variety is cultivated almost exclusively in Ermstal, and more precisely in the rural district of Reutlingen and Baden-Wurttemberg.
Image: © Albercht Arnold