Tart (sour) cherries are much beloved in many parts of Asia and Europe. So it’s not surprising that the second most common cherry grown commercially in Michigan has its ancestral roots in Hungary. The Balaton™ (yes, that’s a trademark symbol!) comes to Michigan via the hard work of Dr. Iezzoni at Michigan State University.1
Dr. Iezonni, Professor of Horticulture, is a specialist in cherry genetics and the breeding of tart cherries. Working with researchers and breeders in Hungary, Dr. Iezzoni did testing of varieties of tart cherries. Much hard work later, the Balaton™ was introduced (and trademarked), named after Hungary’s beautiful Lake Balaton (a big tourist attraction).
Now, there is a very interesting agreement regarding the Balaton™: For every Balaton™ tree sold in the US, 25 cents goes to support tart cherry breeding research in Hungary. I think that’s fabulous—a way of using the present to ensure the future.
I’ve not had the Balaton™ fresh, though perhaps next year I’ll take a trip to Michigan during harvest season. But until then, I’ll make do with the delicious dried ones I have!
And until then, a big “Thank You” to Dr. Iezzoni!
1 A excellent history of this cherry can be found at www.hrt.msu.edu/faculty/Iezzoni/Balaton/HistoryBalaton.html