Cherries are the first things to ripen in Tropoja every spring, and so are some of the most loved fruit. The month of June is called Qershor in Albanian, and people here have told me that this is because it is when the cherries (qershi) arrive. Of course the special black cherries of Tropoja are called bojli (not qershi) and they come in May, not June, but – WHATEVER! Bizarrely, they aren’t often made into jam. Actually, almost never. If anything – but very rarely – you might find cherry raki. I suppose we’re all just too happy that winter is over, and lie around stuffing ourselves. Oh the grasshopper days of summer! Anyhow, here at the shop, we’re trying to foster a cherry jam appreciation – as it is seriously some of the most delicious stuff we’ve ever had. We encourage making it thin, with the cherries still floating whole in it. Cherry jam on fresh warm bread. Cherry jam on pancakes. Cherry jam poured over warm and buttery cakes! Actually, that might be why you never find cherry jam here (except, as mentioned, at our shop) cause we’re so happy the winter days of brine pickles are over, we just tend to EAT THEM ALL. Of course, as early fruit, they are also particularly susceptible to late snows. So some years you could bury yourself in cherries and some years (like last year) you don’t even see one cherry. Or wait, I lie. I saw THREE cherries last year. I counted them.
Oh wait (again!). It might be because it’s such a pain in the butt to take all the pits out . . . having spent days over the past years, each spring, with black stained hands from doing this, just to get 6 medium-ish sized jars of jam, each of which disappears within a few days . . . well, when you eat our jam, remember that each single cherry that slides down your throat had its pit lovingly removed by someone local.
Of course, if you happen to be visiting around late May (somehow, bizarrely regularly, they’re in full glorious ripeness on the 21st of May), contact us to find out how to join in the harvest. And stuff yourself silly.