I was quite surprised to find, during the recent walk on the island where my father is from, a Service Tree or, as in Croatian – oskoruša. This tree has become increasingly rare and nearly gone in many areas. I don’t recall seeing a tree for years now, but yesterday, I found tree trees! Full of ripe fruits!
This tree is generally rare and very hard to find in almost all of Europe (although there are farms in France and Germany). It originates in modern day Turkey and it was brought to the rest of Europe by the ancient Romans. The oldest tree is believed to be one in Czech Republic and it is believed to be 400 years old. Service tree lumber was mainly used for making wheels and other heavy duty parts of mills and ships as it is very hard. In the past, nearly every house was planting this tree and even the Empress Maria Theresa ordered that every household in Austrian Empire needs to plant this tree. The fruit was used for medicinal tea (good for stomach ache and constipation) and even as a supplement to flour that was used to make bread. Especially good was the liquor made of the fruits! Service tree fruit has about 15% of sugar.
Sweet? That is something you will not even remotely connect with the taste of these beautifully looking fruits once you bite them! Picked straight off the tree, it is extremely gritty and it has to be left toover-ripen – almost rot – when it sweetens and becomes pleasant to eat. In the old days, it was done by keeping the fruit in hay or wheat but you can just let it stay in the basement where you can control the humidity.
I was quite excited to have found them as I have not tasted them in years and this is one of those fruits that still bring pictures of the childhood.
Getting them ready to eat, soon!