Cerecera is the word used among the population of the Valle de Jerte, or the Jerte river valley, to talk about the time of the cherry harvest. Thus it was also chosen to name an extensive program of tourism and leisure that is developed in this district of the North of Extremadura, which takes place from the end of May up until the month of August. These events are very closely tied to the Cherry Harvest, which is a purely agricultural yearly event. During these months the N-110 road, that joins Plasencia to Soria, is seething with trucks travelling in both directions, packed with fruit. These cherries are meant for both the local Spanish market and for exports. They are sent to the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium or Brazil, among some destinations. They follow a route with many directions, since most of the crop an estimated annual harvest of 15000 metric tons, up to 60% of the total is exported.
The Cerecera intends to promote the district by placing a value on its star fruit, with activities related to nature, food or gastronomy, agricultural tourism, and folk culture. The events start at the end of May with a Market and a number of Conferences related to the gastronomy of cherries. In August, at the end of the season, there are festive gatherings, which vary every year, depending on the villages that host the events.
It certainly has turned into an excellent tourist advertisement, which extends the trail left by the Cherry Blossoms Festival, which has been declared a festival of National Interest. As it rallies in the Valle del Jerte thousands of tourist that visit the place during two weeks from March to April, every year, when these trees turn white from their blossoms. In fact, many people that visit the valley during early spring will return during this new harvest period. We can meet many tourists from Japan, who are specially linked to a country, where cherry trees are a matter of worship.
This is a perfect time to visit and enjoy the scenery of the Valle del Jerte, with its various routes and walks. Also, we must recommend the natural swimming pools and gorges. The most popular pools and gorges of northern Extremadura are along this district. Just to mention a few you might want to visit: El Nogalón, La Pesquerona, El Simón, El Vao, El Prado Sancho, El Risco de la Virgen, and the Cabezamerina. Also, we must mention the gorges of Caozo , Las Nogaledas, the Garganta de Marta, La Estrella and the Garganta de los Infiernos.
While you can be soaking in the springs of one of theses gardens you might see the processes of harvesting the cherries. It really depends on which areas you choose. If interested, you might even become a harvester. One of the attractions of the cerecera is to be involved in the actual process of harvesting cherries, during June and July. This is an activity of Agricultural Tourism, which has many fans.
The Valle del Jerte shows its generosity by opening the doors of the Coop factories during weekends. There you can learn how they work, how they classify this fruit that is protected by their Certificated of Origin.
The bigarreau cherry enters the kitchen
The whole valley of Jerte is deeply involved in this project, including the restaurant and hotel industry. Whole menus are designed with the Cherry as the main ingredient. Until the middle of July you can participate in culinary events and Gastronomy Conferences dedicated to the Bigarreau Cheery. Some restaurants include in their menu wonderful dishes, such as: Orange Salad with Cherry Marmalade, Fried Baby Pig with Cherry Vinaigrette, Tiramisu made with red fruits. These are just a few examples that will make your mouth melt. Also, the popular Cherry Gazpacho is already a classical dish.
The Cerecera, also, offers activities designed for people interested in outdoors sports. The BTT Walk among Cherry Trees is a good example. For those that are no able to register or that prefer to walk on their own, the trails that have been established and can be consulted at the BTT Center of the Valle del Jerte. This is an excellent aid for the people interested in bicycling. In addition, many tour operators, specialized in sporting activities are available in this district. They offer activities such as canyoning, kayaking and speleology, including group events or programs specially designed by individual request.
The Cerecera of the Valle del Jerte takes place from the end of May until the beginning of August, in the villages of this district. It naturally follows the Cherry Blossom festival.
Original article by Pilar Armero
Translated by Susana Windt