A Reverence for Cherries

Listen to Today's Edition
Voiced by Amazon Polly

Cherries were an important part of George Washington’s life.

The founding father and first president of the United States loved an alcoholic drink known as “Cherry Bounce.” Meanwhile, most children in the country have heard the legend of how he cut down his father’s cherry tree.

Now, archeologists at Washington’s Mount Vernon home have discovered a batch of 35 glass bottles from the 18th century in the mansion’s cellar, 29 bottles of which are intact, all containing perfectly preserved cherries and various berries that had been buried since the early days of the Revolutionary war in 1775.

“These artifacts likely haven’t seen the light of day since before the American Revolution, perhaps forgotten when George Washington departed Mount Vernon to take command of the Continental Army,” Mount Vernon President & CEO Doug Bradburn said in a press release.

This discovery comes two months after Mount Vernon officials said they found two glass jars of cherries, liquid and pits in the cellar.

They are now partnering up with the US Department of Agriculture’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) to analyze the 250-year-old produce, including extracting its DNA to identify the cherry species and potentially germinate new trees.

Researchers believe the cherries are of the tart variety and hope to pinpoint the exact species that the founding father grew and enjoyed on his estate. There is hope that some cherry pits might be viable for germination, which could lead to the planting of new trees, they told NPR.

Meanwhile, others noted that discovery and subsequent research could provide insights into 18th-century food preservation, plantation food customs and the cuisine of the period.

The recent find is part of a $40 million Mansion Revitalization Project aimed at preserving Mount Vernon for the 250th anniversary of the United States in 2026.

“It’s so appropriate that these bottles have been unearthed shortly before the 250th anniversary of the United States,” Bradburn said.

Not already a subscriber?

If you would like to receive DailyChatter directly to your inbox each morning, subscribe below with a free two-week trial.

Subscribe today

Support journalism that’s independent, non-partisan, and fair.

If you are a student or faculty with a valid school email, you can sign up for a FREE student subscription or faculty subscription.

Questions? Write to us at [email protected].

Copy link