If you like cherries, you must have heard of the "Cerejas do Fundão" in your local supermarket. This is because most of the cherries produced in Portugal come from this small town.
Near Covilhã, Fundão is a Portuguese inland city in the Castelo Branco district with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, although the municipality, which includes 23 parishes, has around 26,500 inhabitants.
Nobody knows why and when Fundão started to be popular for cherries, but there is one thing we know for sure, its history will forever be associated with this red fruit.
Curious as it may seem, there wasn't a single cherry in Portugal. Apparently these crops come from the East and were implemented here in Portugal in some areas of the country where they did very well - this is the case of Fundão, but also Guarda.
Fundão is considered the main cherry production area at national level, representing more than €20 million per year in the Fundão economy.
Besides the cherries, Fundão is also home to some of the most fantastic Schist villages - which are villages with houses made entirely of that specific stone. One of these is the beautiful and charming village of Janeiro de Cima.
Other ways to use cherries
Cherries are not just a fruit. Their pleasant flavours, capable of making any mouth water, have allowed many people to use their imagination to create new products using these specific fruits.
In fact, there are even restaurants that prepare some dishes with cherries - and I'm not just talking about desserts - there are dishes like sirloin steak with cherry sauce and cherry duck breast. There are also some desserts as well, such as chocolates or cherry cake.
In addition, there are some alcoholic drinks made from cherries that are very popular when you arrive in this part of the country, such as liqueurs and gin.
A new brand
"Cereja do Fundão" has been promoted as a brand by the producers in order to develop the whole region. The Cherry Festival, which took place between 10 and 12 June, is an example of one of the latest events used to promote this brand. This Festival is very important to help producers, as it contributes to fair trade, since the value paid by the consumer actually goes to the farmer.
The Municipality of Fundão is committed to promoting this brand. In addition to the gastronomic events, this year, in a partnership with food distribution platforms in Lisbon (Bolt Food, Glovo and Uber Eats), it will be possible to order Fundão cherries and have the product delivered quickly to your home.
Health benefits – hopefully results
Cherries are not only tasty, but can actually be nourishing and good for our health. A recent study that analysed 23 types of cherries has just proved it.
According to that study, cherries have health properties that are anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer and anti-diabetic, especially in the case of anti-inflammatory properties, highlights the “Cereja do Fundão” online store, mentioning this study.
"The first studies give us good indications in terms of anti-inflammatory activity. This means that, at the moment, we have already approved tests using animals", said researcher Luís Silva.
In terms of anti-cancer properties, the study focused on prostate cancer. "We were able to verify that the combination of cherry with the by-products, manages to inhibit, eliminate or kill prostate cancer cells, which is a good indication to continue this same line of research."
In diabetes, it was also possible to conclude that the “cherry has bioactive compounds capable of inhibiting the enzymes that interfere with the disease”, reads the website.
As such, the researcher, who is also a professor at the University of Guarda, is optimistic about the future of this kind of research. "Our goal is to continue with this line of research and continue to promote this region and this red fruit."