By Laman Ismayilova
Having delicious sour taste, it’s no wonder that cherry plum is one of the most beloved fruit of Azerbaijanis of all ages. This juicy fruit brings back childhood memories of many locals.
Some cherry plum varieties are especially widespread in Shaki, Gabala and Nakhchivan regions of the country. Such varieties as Khanbeyi, Shabrani, Agh and others satisfy every craving of appetite.
One of the most popular kinds of cherry plum is called Goycha. The history of Goycha goes back to the 6th-9th centuries.
This kind of plum grows only in Nakhchivan and differs from other varieties of cherry plum by that it remains green until fully ripened. It is widespread in the city of Nakhchivan, in the village of Shikhmahmud and Sharur. Thus, trying cherry plum should be part of any travel experience in Nakhchivan.
Every year, Goycha Festival in Nakhchivan opens its doors to local residents and foreign guests. Many farmers and gardeners present their products there. Some of the cherry plums go for sale, the others - for the creation of installations.
Crispy and juicy cherry plum can be used in both sweet and savory dishes. The classic version of lavashana (rolled thin tablets of dried cherry plums) is made from cherry plums. To make lavashana, one should poach or stew cherry plums lightly, peel the skin and remove kernels. Then rub the pulp through a sieve, spread the strained mass on a board and dry it in the sun or oven.
Delicious cherry plum jam can perfectly accompany any breakfast tea. To make the jam, one should remove the top layer from cherry plums and keep them in lime water for 1.5-2 hours. After that, thoroughly wash berries with water and pierce each berry in several places, and pour cooked syrup (1 cup of water per 1.1 kg of sugar) over cherry plums. Finally, boil jam in three runs for 2-3 hours with an interval of 8 hours.
Cherry plum sauce is a great dressing not only for meat or fish, but also for vegetables. To prepare this delicious sauce, one will need 1 kg of cherry plums, 1 teaspoon of ground red pepper, 1 teaspoon of vinegar, 1 tablespoon of dill seeds, 5 garlic cloves, 50 ml of water and 60 g of sugar.
Along with mouthwatering taste, cherry plums are healthy and loaded with nutrients and antioxidants. The cherry plum, also known as the myrobalan plum (Prunus cerasifera) are important sources of antioxidants and Vitamin C. This vitamin is a strong antioxidant that can strengthen your body’s natural defenses. It can also reduce blood pressure levels and the risk of heart disease.
Cherry plums are great source of a soluble fiber called pectin. Moreover, cherry plums provide good amounts of dietary fiber which binds to some of the fat from the food we eat. At the same time, cherry plums indirectly help lower LDL (bad) cholesterol levels.
Cherry plum tree grows to about 8-12 meters in height and has smooth dark brown, green or purple red, ovate leaves. They are usually the first to produce flowers, as early as mid-February and up until mid-April.
Cherry plum flowers are white or pale pink and about 2 cm across, with five petals and many stamens.
Laman Ismayilova is AzerNews’ staff journalist, follow her on Twitter: @Lam_Ismayilova
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