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The Marasca cherry (Prunus cerasus var. marasca) is a type of sour Morello cherry known only from cultivation. The Marasca cherry as grown in coastal Croatia (historic Dalmatia) is reputed to attain its finest flavour. The fruit's largest yield is in Zadar in Croatia, but it has been successfully cultivated in northern Italy, Slovenia, southern Hungary and Bosnia and Herzegovina. It has become naturalized in North America, though the "maraschino cherry" of American commerce is the Royal Ann variety of sweet cherry.
The name 'marasca' comes from the Italian words 'amarasca' and 'amaro', which stem from the Latin word 'amārus' (meaning bitter).
Compared to other cherries, the fruit of the Marasca cherry tree is small. with Anthocyanins accounting for its dark, near black colour. Its bitter taste and drier pulp make Marasca cherries ideal for creating fine cherry liqueur. By definition, true Maraschino liqueur is supposed to be made only from Marasca cherries. The Marasca cherry was also the original base cherry used to make Maraschino cherries.
- Noted as feral (Verwildert) around Cattaro (Kotor) Dalmatia, in C. Studniczka, Beiträge zur Flora von Süddalmatien 1890:75.
- Strikić, Frane; Radunić, Mira; Vuletin Selak, Gabriela; Čmelik, Zlatko; Družić, Jasmina, "Comparative Advantages of Sour Cherry 'Marasca' (Prunus cerasus L. var. Marasca) cultivation in Croatia" International conference of "Perspectives in European Fruit Growing", Lednice, Češka Republika, 18-20. October 2006 (on-line abstract).
- The Timber Press Dictionary of Plant Names 2010, s.v. "Prunus" 609.
- Flora dalmatica, 1842-52: vol. 3:258 1850
- Branka Levaj, Verica Dragović-Uzelac, Sandra Pedisić, Dubravka Škevin, "Effect of maturity and geographical region on Aathocyanin content of sour cherries (Prunus cerasus var. marasca), Food Technology & Biotechnology, January 2010 [(on-line abstract ]
- "maraschino." Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 20 Jun. 2013. <Dictionary.com http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/maraschino>.
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