Heirloom Itxassou Cherry Varieties

France

Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes

Fruit, nuts and fruit preserves

Back to the archive >
Heirloom Itxassou Cherry Varieties

In spring, the streets, gardens and fields of the small village of Itxassou in the center of the French Basque region fill with the colors and scents of cherry blossoms. The trees are scattered around the orchards or at the edges of fields in Itxassou, from the valley floor up to the mountain flanks.
Many varieties of Itxassou cherries exist, including Peloa, Xapata and Belxa, as well as the rarer Markichta and Garoua.
Found along the edge of footpaths since the 12th century, the cherry trees used to represent an essential source of income to the local economy. Production peaked between 1850 and 1950, when during harvest time, a market would be held in the town square every day. Before the Second World War, annual production was around 300 tons.
Depending on the variety, the color of the skin ranges from red to brown and the flesh from pink to red. The fruit is rich in sugar, but also has a tart flavor and a slightly astringent note at the end, accompanied by a freshness with subtle notes of lemon.
The cherries are picked by hand in early June.
Itxassou cherries are excellent eaten fresh, but they are also used in various typical recipes, like jam, the traditional Gâteau Basque (a cake made from flour, eggs and butter and filled with pastry cream, or, in the older version, cherry jam), cherry syrup and sweet-and-sour cherries, served together with cured meats and local sheep’s milk cheeses. In many local restaurants, it accompanies duck breast.
The production techniques for the jam have been passed down through the generations and every family has its own recipe. The fruit is cooked in a large copper pot, and the main variation is the cooking time: Some prefer a short cooking to preserve the fruit’s original flavor and the sensory characteristics of each variety, while others prefer a slow, lengthy cooking, which gives the finished product a caramel flavor.

  • Hai imparato qualcosa di nuovo da questa pagina?
    Did you learn something new from this page?

  • YesNo
Back to the archive >
The Presidium was started to protect these heirloom varieties, which risked extinction following the Second World War as other nearby French regions switched to intensive cultivation. With the intensification and specialization of agriculture, cherry orchards have been gradually abandoned. The 25 Presidium producers belong to the Xapata association. Thanks to recovery and replanting activities, there are now around 3,000 trees in and around Itxassou. Different producers have started managing their trees according to environmentally friendly principles and have set up artisanal processing workshops. None of them are specialized in cherry production, which supplements their main business of livestock farming or the cultivation of other types of fruit. The unpredictable, damp climate means they cannot count on an excellent harvest every year.

Production area
Itxassou municipality, Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, Aquitaine region, northern Basque Country

Presidium supported by
European Leader and Feader projects, Aquitaine Regional Authority, Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, Arrapitz association
25 producers are united in the Xapata association (www.cerise-itxassou.com). Fifteen of them also make cherry products:

Marie-Francoise Regerat
GAEC Zubeleta
Itxassou
tel.: + 33 623197024

Benat Larteguy
Itxassou
tel.: + 33 679312765

Maryse Doyharzabal
GAEC Itsas Mendi
Saint Pée sur Nivelle
tel.: + 33 660101874

Maison Belazkabieta
Espelette
tel.: + 33 608783196

GAEC Iriquin
Itxassou
tel.: + 33 616314483

Ferme Antxondoa
Itxassou
tel.: +33 645562639

Maison Etxeberria
Itxassou
tel.: +33 677001641
ursumu@orange.fr

Fagaldea
Itxassou
tel.: +33 559298201

Maison Berrueta
Itxassou
tel.: +33 559934106

Le Verger du Pas de Roland
Itxassou
tel.: +33 0672959246
jean.estevecorena@wanadoo.fr

Maison Uste Gabea
Itxassou
tel.: +33 647772693

Maison Iratzetan
Itxassou
tel.: +33 658031696

Celine Jorajuria
Macaye
tel.: +33 682598796

Maison Iguzki alde
Itxassou
tel.: +33 686961966

Monique Iriart
Maison Zabaloa
Maison Xaitoa
Maitè Ibar
Ixabela Aguerre
Vincent Ibarburu
GAEC Arosteguy
Mattin Etchepare
Nicole Harriague

In the center of the village, a confectioner-grower, Emile Harispourou, work with the Presidium cherries, making jams as well as an excellent Gâteau Basque.

Caffè Krakada
Place du Fronton - Itxassou
tel. +33 559293274
www.krakada.com
Presidium coordinator

Maryse Cachenaut
Présidente de l’association Xapata
ursumu@orange.fr
www.cerise-itxassou.com

Contatto:
Elise Momas – EHLG
elise.ehlg@wanadoo.fr
The Presidium was started to protect these heirloom varieties, which risked extinction following the Second World War as other nearby French regions switched to intensive cultivation. With the intensification and specialization of agriculture, cherry orchards have been gradually abandoned. The 25 Presidium producers belong to the Xapata association. Thanks to recovery and replanting activities, there are now around 3,000 trees in and around Itxassou. Different producers have started managing their trees according to environmentally friendly principles and have set up artisanal processing workshops. None of them are specialized in cherry production, which supplements their main business of livestock farming or the cultivation of other types of fruit. The unpredictable, damp climate means they cannot count on an excellent harvest every year.

Production area
Itxassou municipality, Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, Aquitaine region, northern Basque Country

Presidium supported by
European Leader and Feader projects, Aquitaine Regional Authority, Pyrénées-Atlantiques department, Arrapitz association
25 producers are united in the Xapata association (www.cerise-itxassou.com). Fifteen of them also make cherry products:

Marie-Francoise Regerat
GAEC Zubeleta
Itxassou
tel.: + 33 623197024

Benat Larteguy
Itxassou
tel.: + 33 679312765

Maryse Doyharzabal
GAEC Itsas Mendi
Saint Pée sur Nivelle
tel.: + 33 660101874

Maison Belazkabieta
Espelette
tel.: + 33 608783196

GAEC Iriquin
Itxassou
tel.: + 33 616314483

Ferme Antxondoa
Itxassou
tel.: +33 645562639

Maison Etxeberria
Itxassou
tel.: +33 677001641
ursumu@orange.fr

Fagaldea
Itxassou
tel.: +33 559298201

Maison Berrueta
Itxassou
tel.: +33 559934106

Le Verger du Pas de Roland
Itxassou
tel.: +33 0672959246
jean.estevecorena@wanadoo.fr

Maison Uste Gabea
Itxassou
tel.: +33 647772693

Maison Iratzetan
Itxassou
tel.: +33 658031696

Celine Jorajuria
Macaye
tel.: +33 682598796

Maison Iguzki alde
Itxassou
tel.: +33 686961966

Monique Iriart
Maison Zabaloa
Maison Xaitoa
Maitè Ibar
Ixabela Aguerre
Vincent Ibarburu
GAEC Arosteguy
Mattin Etchepare
Nicole Harriague

In the center of the village, a confectioner-grower, Emile Harispourou, work with the Presidium cherries, making jams as well as an excellent Gâteau Basque.

Caffè Krakada
Place du Fronton - Itxassou
tel. +33 559293274
www.krakada.com
Presidium coordinator

Maryse Cachenaut
Présidente de l’association Xapata
ursumu@orange.fr
www.cerise-itxassou.com

Contatto:
Elise Momas – EHLG
elise.ehlg@wanadoo.fr