They have deep purple skin and bright red flesh. They are larger, firmer and somewhat sweeter than other Morello Cherries.
When the stem is detached, the fruit seals off the hole left behind by the stem to protect the fruit from the air. This ability helps their shelf life.
Pie makers, both commercial and domestic, are liking this cherry because it holds its shape well when cooked, and the pie is always a good red colour: additional colouring doesn’t need to be added to the pie filling.
As these are sweeter than other sour cherries, hold back a bit on the sugar.
Balaton Cherries are a result of a breeding programme started at Michigan State University by Dr Amy Iezzoni in 1981 to develop new sour cherry varieties. She went to many countries in Eastern Europe, but Hungary impressed her. She brought back several varieties to start development from, and worked with Hungarian researchers. They were released commercially around 1994, and started to reach significant commercial yields around 2000.
Balaton Cherries is a trademarked name; royalties from each tree sold are being split by Michigan State University and fruit research stations in Hungary.
Named after Lake Balaton in Hungary, Hungary’s largest lake. Was originally named “Bunched of Újfehértói” during development, but the Balaton name was picked as it was easier for English speakers and easier to trademark.