Available fresh on some markets as well on roadsides during the cherry season, you will find this cherry in many processed foods that the Basque Country is famous for. You can thus obtain the ideal partner for all cheese platters: an Itxassou cherry jam (black or red cherry jam). In vinegar or syrup form, the Itxassou cherry has undergone many transformations meaning it can adapt to all your cravings.
It is not one, but more than six varieties of cherry that are grouped under the name Itxassou cherry (discover them by visiting the cherry conservation orchard in Itxassou nearby the church).
The variety that is most grown is Peloa (deep purple/black cherry), Xapata (yellow/orange cherry) and Beltxa (black cherry).
At the turn of the 20th century, wholesalers from Bayonne stocked up in Itxassou, then in the 1950s and 1960s, the Itxassou cherry’s reputation flourished, flooding the markets on the Basque coasts and even further north in the Landes. However, the arrival of supermarkets and cherries from elsewhere, in addition to the fall in manpower on farms took their toll on production.
Its production nowadays has been secured thanks to the desire of producers to use local cherries that have acclimatised properly to the Basque Country. The association Xapata plays a key role in preserving and protecting the Itxassou cherry. Discussions about launching a PDO recognition procedure for the fresh fruit and for the fruit intended for processing are underway.