Q: What does it mean to ‘cherry pick’ something?
This weekend, Young, NSW, the birthplace of the Australian Cherry Industry, is hosting the 62nd National Cherry Festival. First commercially planted in 1878, Young accounts for 60% of the total cherry production in NSW. While NSW and VIC have traditionally been the cherry capitals of Australia, Tassie is hot on their heels as the home of our cherry exports, which is more the pity for us locals as the temperate maritime climate of the island produces lush, large fruit.
A member of the rose family, the majority of eating cherries are classified as either a sweet (Prunus Avium) or sour cherry (Prunus Cerasus). Sweet cherries are believed to have come from a wild cherry once found in the Caspian– Black Sea region, these cherries are delicious both fresh and cooked. Sour varieties can also be eaten fresh but are most often used for cooking, baking and preserving due to their tart flavour.
In recent years, plantations have been established outside traditional growing areas in the hope of prolonging the traditional cherry season which runs from November to February. Similarly to strawberries, a constant supply of cherries is achieved by harvesting different varieties at staggered intervals. To achieve a consistent supply, some states will grow more than 50 different varieties of cherry. It is therefore difficult to compile an exhaustive list, so the table below focuses on the main cherry varieties in NSW, when to look out for them and what to expect.
New Australian selections are starting to make their mark but are not yet commercially strong, keep an eye out for Sir Dom, Sir Tom, Dame Roma, Sir Douglas, Dame Nancy and Sir Hans in coming seasons.
So far, the 2011 season has brought mixed fortunes for Australian cherry growers. Cherries are extremely delicate and rains or high winds at harvest time can spell disaster for growers as they can cause the cherries to split or bruise. While the Yarra Valley, Central and North Eastern VIC are projecting one of their most fruitful season’s in decades (if the weather holds), NSW regions are battling high rains that are already causing some of the bigger fruit to split. While still hopeful, local farmers are warning that NSW markets may see a smaller fruit size this year as a result.
To kick of the season with a bang, here are some inspired cherry recipes to sink your teeth into:
- SAVOURY: Roast Duck with cherries & roast kipfler potatoes
- SWEET: Watermelon, cherry and rose salad, with shortbread, yoghurt & cherry syrup
- PICKLED: Pickled Cherries (have with duck, pork belly or blue veined cheese)
- SLAMMING: Esta Bebida 2
To find out more about the delicious cherry varieties on offer or to place your order contact Simon George & Sons.
A: Cherries don’t ripen after they’ve been picked, so it has always been important to choose your fruit carefully. To cherry pick is to inspect something very closely, so you come out with only the very best. With this in mind, how do you cherry pick a cherry?
A cherry’s colour is highly dependent on variety, so a darker skin will not necessarily be the best indicator of maturity. Instead, look for a cherry that is good and plump, with glossy skin and a nice green stem. Avoid soft, dull or bruised fruit or small hard cherries as they will lack flavour and juice.