The National Cherry Growers and Industries Foundation (commonly called NCGIF) is governed by a member board consisting of one Grower and one Briner from California; two Growers, two Briners and one Canner from both Michigan and Oregon; and two Growers, one Briner and one Canner from Washington.
The organization was formed in 1948 and is funded by dollars generated through assessments paid by the Growers, Briners and Processors of USA grown cherries.
In general, most if not all of the Growers, are individuals or families who have been growing cherries that become Maraschino cherries in the states of California, Michigan, Oregon and Washington for generations.
In terms of agriculture, our cherries bloom in the Spring and are harvested from May-September depending on the region, the varieties and of course weather. Brined cherries, which become Maraschino cherries, are the first to ripen.
From a historical standpoint, the Maraschino cherry dates back several centuries to the coastal regions of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia & Hercegovina, Serbia and northern Italy, where a liqueur was manufactured from a local cherry called the “Marasca”.
Maraschino Cherries and glacé fruits were first imported to the United States in the 1890’s as a delicacy to be used in the country’s finest restaurants and hotels. In 1896, manufacturers began experimenting with a domestic light skinned, sweet cherry called the Royal Anne. Less liquor was used in the processing and almond oil was substituted for the liqueur. Finally, the liqueur was eliminated altogether. By 1920, the American Maraschino was so popular that it had replaced the foreign variety domestically. The modern-day Maraschino cherry is characterized by its bright, uniform color and fruit cherry flavor with a hint of almond.