Peresta Belvitza Cherry

Ark of taste
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Peresta, Shipochanska or Shipochka (which is from the local Kyustendil dialect) Belvitza is derived from the local variety Razhdavichka Belvitza, yet strikingly unique. About 85-90 years ago, in the village of Shipochano, the variety was discovered in the cherry orchard of local resident Pene Ranov and then continued to propagate, and it was also discovered in the orchard of his neighbor Stoyne N. Lazarov.
The fruit of the cherry is medium in size, average height 21mm, average width 21mm and thickness of 18mm. The average weight of the fruit is 5g. The stem firmly adheres to the fruit and has a medium length, of 39mm, with thin to medium thickness and slightly pink color on both ends of the stem.
The fruit is heart-shaped, with slightly flattened sides. In the middle of the cherry, there is a well-defined blood-red line, similar to a feather. It is a notable characteristic of the variety and earned its name “peresta”, which in Bulgarian means feather-like, in regards to a bird’s feather.
The fruit has thin and delicate skin, with a smooth, glossy, pinkishly-red hue on a yellowish background, which covers most of the flesh of the fruit, in addition to the vertical blood-red feathered-line that gives the cherry a beautiful appearance.
The flesh of the fruit is yellowish with a slightly creamy tinge. The cherries are very sweet with low acidity. The juice is clear. The easily removable pit is considered medium-sized, about 11mm. These cherries are considered of the highest quality.
They are harvested by hand from in the late spring, from the end of May to beginning of June.
Peresta Belvitza is not cultivated commercially in Kyustendil, but single trees are found interspersed in village gardens, mainly in the villages of Shipochano, Razhdavitza, Shishkovtzi, Stensko, and Sovolyano. Outside the Kyustendil villages, this variety is almost non-existent.
The Peresta Belvitza and other old local cherry varieties are disappearing. Despite Kyustendil being famed for its cherries, even being given the moniker "Cherry Capital of Bulgaria”, finding large-scale producers of these sorts are almost impossible because of their thin skin, small window for transportation and lack of suitable storage facilities, as these cherries are perfect for fresh consumption. The shelf life is limited, only 2 – 3 and this makes them unattractive for commercial growers. Currently, many of the producers tending to these trees do that as a hobby. This sort is unique to our village, and it needs to be preserved for the future generations. Hopefully, its inclusion on the Arc of Taste will bring recognition to its flavour characteristics, encouraging more farmers to plant this and other local varieties. Besides being eaten fresh, the cherries are also preserved as a compote, dried or made into Rakia, the traditional Balkan spirit.

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Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Nominated by:Casey Angelova