Many people think that it is the same to say cherries as picotas. Even in many areas of Spain it is not known what the picotas are. To clarify doubts and avoid confusing one product with another, I have prepared this post that will help us understand the differences between cherries and picotas and to learn how to distinguish them.
The first thing that should be noted is that the pillory is a kind of cherries, which occurs only in Extremadura, in the area of Jerte Valley and in some territory in the area of La Vera. All pillories are cherries but not all cherries are pillory.
When the end of spring, begins the season of cherries that are produced in many areas of Spain. We all enjoy eating this magnificent fruit whose colors range from yellow to black, the best known being the cherry red variety, an intense red color, similar to garnet like the one in the cherries in the photo.
Characteristics of the pillory
The Picota del Jerte is a variety of cherry of superior quality, originally from the Jerte Valley, so authentic that it has a Protected Designation of Origin. Its maturation is somewhat later than the cherry, so its season extends from the last days of June or the first days of July until the middle – end of August approximately.
The pillory is a smaller and tastier cherry than the rest of the cherries. While the best common cherries of the California or Navalinda type varieties have sizes of 28mm or even 30, 32 or more, the pillories range between sizes of 24 and 26 mm.
The pillory is the richest of the cherries, sweeter and with less acidity. For this reason, despite being smaller, the pillory is more valued than the cherry because it is less acidic, more flavorful and with the flesh tighter and firmer, which makes it crisp when put in the mouth.
The pillories of the Jerte are of different varieties. The most valued are the Pico Negro and La Ambrunés, which are the sweetest, although there are also the so-called Pico Limón and Pico Colorado, all protected by the PDO. The rest of the varieties of this fruit are not picotas but varieties of common cherries.
One of the most outstanding characteristics or differentiating elements is the fact that the pillory has no tail or peduncle because it remains on the tree during harvesting. This has led some to try to pass cherries into pillories, plucking their tails.
Look at the photo and you will see how the cherries (on the left) lose fluid if the peduncle is pulled off and the pillories have the hole from which the peduncle came out, perfectly healed from its collection.
With this practice what is achieved is to damage the fruit and make a small cut that makes the cherryto spoil sooner. The authentic pillories leave the peduncle on the tree and heal when harvested, maintaining their firmness and smoothness.
The pipo or pillory seed It is larger than that of cherries so the amount of pulp or meat they have is somewhat less, for the same size. However, the cherry flavor is much more intense and less acidic than common cherries.
The cherry red color It is more intense and darker than that of cherries, its flesh is firmer and crunchy in the first bite, and its flavor is also sweeter than that of cherries. For this reason, although they are smaller, their price is higher than that of cherries.
In summary, the pillory is a variety of cherry. If you see some cherries without a stem, not too big and with a very intense color, try them immediately. If when you bite, you notice that the meat is firm and crunchy at the first bite, you will be in front of the delicious Picotas cherries from Valle del Jerte.
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