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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » October 27, 2011
Regional and Traditional Products
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Nadwi¶lanka Cherry
October 27, 2011   
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Wi¶nia nadwi¶lanka, a cherry variety grown in six districts in Poland located on the Vistula River halfway through its course, is the first food product from Poland’s ¦więtokrzyskie province to be registered by the European Commission as a Protected Designation of Origin.

The distinctive features of the nadwi¶lanka cherry include its high extract, which is the total amount of water-soluble compounds (mainly sugars), strong aroma and intense color from anthocyanines, a type of antioxidants that release free radicals and are known to possess anti-cancer properties. Nadwi¶lanka cherries are smaller than fruit produced by other popular cherry varieties. The juice has a stronger color and more sour taste. After the stalk is removed, a little juice flows out and sets into a jelly, extending the shelf life of the fruit compared with other varieties. Owing to their higher extract and greater acidity than those of other cherry varieties, nadwi¶lanka cherries are excellent to make cherry concentrate, as less fruit is needed to ensure a better color and scent.

The nadwi¶lanka cherry is a local variety of the juice cherry that has been adapted to the soils of the Vistula valley, rich in lime and a mixture of lime and clay. Nadwi¶lanka is grown in the districts of Ożarów, Tarłów, Annopol, Lipsko, Sienno and Solec nad Wisł±. Its former names include słupska, słupianka and słupiec, from the village of Słupia Nadbrzeżna, where the first offshoot cherry trees were planted in the early 20th century by Teofil Zaj±c from Słupia Nadbrzeżna. He probably bought the seedlings from a landowner named Leszczyński. In all likelihood, they were specially selected seedlings of the ground cherry, some specimens of which still grow in the area.

Seeing the potential offered by the delicious fruit, in 1925 Zaj±c encouraged Jan Krupa, the principal of a school in Słupia Nadbrzeżna, to have his students plant cherry trees along the road to the nearby village of Tadeuszów. That proved a great way to advertise the new variety, which soon spread along the Vistula River, hence the name Nadwi¶lanka (derived from “on the Vistula”). Nadwi¶lanka cherry orchards flourished the fastest between the two world wars, driven by enormous interest from merchants. The cherry has since been extremely popular, both fresh and as a component of fruit preserves.

The growing area occupied by nadwi¶lanka cherry plantings forced growers to seek new ways to distribute the product. Large quantities were transported by a ship regularly plying the waters from Sandomierz in the ¦więtokrzyskie region to Warsaw, where the cherry was highly popular.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the nadwi¶lanka variety attracted the attention of buyers in Germany, who were particularly taken by its intensive color. Another tide of interest came in the 1990s when Denmark’s Vallo Saft company opened a fruit and vegetable processing plant in Sandomierz. The company regarded nadwi¶lanka as a good substitute for a fine Danish cherry variety which had similar properties. The interest from the Danes prompted the locals to start planting lots of nadwi¶lanka trees in their orchards again. After the Danish company, the cherry caught the interest of French company Materne, whose Polish subsidiary, Materne Polska, processes the fruit into a range of products including cherry compote.

The application for the nadwi¶lanka cherry to be registered as a Protected Designation of Origin was submitted by the Nadwi¶lanka Cooperative of Fruit and Vegetable Producers in Ożarów, ¦więtokrzyskie province. The cooperative buys 25 percent of all nadwi¶lanka cherry yields to produce juice and syrup.
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