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The Warsaw Voice » Special Sections » March 31, 2015
Regional and Traditional Products
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Vistula Cherry – Wi¶nia Nadwi¶lanka
March 31, 2015   
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The Vistula cherry (Wi¶nia nadwi¶lanka), a variety grown in six districts located on the Vistula River halfway along its course, was the first food product from Poland’s ¦więtokrzyskie province to be registered by the European Commission as a Protected Designation of Origin.

The Vistula cherry is a juicy fruit derived from the wild steppe cherry. It has been widely cultivated since the early 20th century. The fruit is excellent for preserves; due to a high extract level and acidity, once the stalk is removed the juice that comes out turns to jelly. The fruit’s intensive color is retained even after processing. With an extract level and acidity that are much higher than in other varieties, these cherries are good for making cherry concentrate which gains a much better color and aroma from a smaller amount of fruit. Thanks to their unique flavor, color and aroma, these cherries are also valued as a dessert fruit.

The fruit is rather small, weighing from 1.6 to 3.3 grams depending on where the trees grow and their age. The diameter seldom exceeds 20 mm and the fruit’s shape is slightly flat. The color is the result of the fruit’s high anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are substances that can oxidize free radicals, which means they have anticarcinogenic properties. The unusually high anthocyanin content in this variety could play a major role in cancer prevention.

The special qualities of these cherries are linked to the climate along the middle stretch of the Vistula River where this cherry variety is widely grown. Registered cherries have to come from trees grown along the part of the Vistula that includes the districts of Ożarów, Tarłów, Annopol, Lipsko, Sienno and Solec nad Wisł±, on a total of about 1,000 hectares. These areas lie within ¦więtokrzyskie, Mazovia and Lublin provinces. The soil there is calcareous or calcareous-loamy. The trees grow quickly and live long (50-100 years) on loamy soil, and 20-25 years on calcareous soil. Fruit from trees grown on calcareous soil is more intensive in color but smaller.

Wi¶nia nadwi¶lanka is also known as wi¶nia słupska, słupianka or słupiec. All these names come from the town of Słupia Nadbrzeżna, where the first trees were planted in the early 20th century. These cherry trees were probably selectively derived from seedlings of the steppe cherry, isolated examples of which can still be found in the region. With time, the cherry trees spread along the Vistula, hence the current, more often used name, nadwi¶lanka, which refers to the river.

Cultivation of these cherries developed the most rapidly in the interwar years. The increasing area under cultivation forced producers to seek new distribution channels. Waterways turned out to be a good option and the fruit started making its way to the Polish capital on a vessel that sailed regularly on the Sandomierz-Warsaw route. The cherries were very popular in Warsaw. Not only Varsovians appreciated their properties. In the 1960s and 1970s, the nadwi¶lanka variety attracted the attention of buyers in Germany.

The popularity of these fruits prompted the locals to start planting nadwi¶lanka trees in their orchards again. This brought a significanf increase in nadwi¶lanka cherry farming in the 1990s.
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