I was pondering my three-day adventure at Double Mountain's Kriek Kamp this morning and began to consider the cherry at the heart of the enterprise. They are Bings, the most common cherry in America. Because of their ubiquity, I assumed they were an eastern fruit that, like so many other, found success thriving in the rich soil and long, sunny summer days of Oregon and Washington. That's mostly wrong, though.
The story starts out familiarly: an Iowan headed West with a wagon of fruit seedlings. He founded a nursery in Milwaukie (that's the suburb south of Portland, for non-Oregonians). But it was there that his foreman, Chinese born Ah Bing, crossed Iowan cherries with wild Oregon trees to produce the tree that now bears his name. I love everything about that story. I also love that the cherries used in the two varieties of Double Mountain's krieks are Rainier and Bings, both Pacific Northwest cultivars.
More cherry trivia. The fruit was not widely popular until recent decades. In the early part of the 20th century, people wanted maraschino cherries--mainly as ornaments for cocktails and desserts. As that article I linked to describes, maraschinos (which are truly gross) were "a cherry that has been bleached white then dyed red, impregnated with sugar, and packed in an almond-flavored syrup." Apparently "demand has softened" for them. Can't imagine why.
Here are a couple Bing-related photographs I took over the weekend.