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Cornelian cherries, kizilcik in Turkish, is a seeded, summer fruit native of the Black Sea region of Turkey. A member of the dogwood family, originating from ancient Greece. In Turkey the fruits are eaten fresh, dried whole, pickled, or used to produce jams and drinks like kompot.

As seen pictured above, their commonly eaten with salt as a summer snack. I found it to be quite bitter and unappetizing. Years ago, in Turkish cities close to Greece like Izmir, berries would be picked from the countryside and sold throughout the village. Similar to simitçi, men would walk along the streets with buckets selling kizilcik. For a coin, you’d receive a paper cone filled with berries covered in salt.

 

THE TREE THAT DECEIVED SATAN
Turkish legend has it that when Satan first came to Turkey, he noticed that the cornelian cherry tree was first to bloom. Eager for the tree to bear fruit, he sat beneath the tree anxiously waiting for the fruits arrival. Unfortunately, unbeknownst to him, the cornelian cherry tree is the last to ripen. Today the tree is sometimes called ‘Şeytan aldatan ağaci’, the tree that deceived Satan. Even though it is one of the first trees to bloom in Spring, it is one of the last to bear fruit. The berries usually ripen near the end of summer, and the fruit only fully ripens after it falls from the tree.

 

TODAY
Commonly found and appreciated today in Europe and the Middle East. In Russia, the fruit is used for distilling vodka. For my fellow Americans, in the U.S. it’s primarily used as an ornamental plant.

Keep in mind, since antiquity, it’s been recommended as a beneficial food, especially useful to strengthen and purge both sick and healthy stomachs. Drinking cornelian cherry tea is a good remedy for healing diarrhea.