As with other fruits, the cherry season has been slightly later this year, but it’s now the peak of crop for British Cherries.
Living in Kent, I always look out at this time of year for people selling locally produced cherries. A couple of weeks ago I pulled in at a lay-by where I’d seen a sign for cherries but was very disappointed to find that, as this year’s crop is about 2 weeks later than expected, the cherries on sale were actually Spanish rather than local ones, although the vendor did assure me that the ones on their farm would start to be harvested within the next week.
Last week, when I got off the train, there was a young man with a tray of cherries at the entrance to the station shouting out “anyone for some local cherries”, and whilst most people just walked by, I was keen to buy a couple of bags to get my first British cherries. Then this weekend I had a call from a friend who’d just been to pick cherries from “her” tree. When I say “her” tree, their family rent a tree in a cherry orchard for about £40 per year. It’s a bit of a gamble and last year they only had about 40 cherries in total, so they were very expensive cherries, however this year the crops are much better, so much better, that they had enough to give away, but in a good year each tree could produce up to about 15kg, so they work out at very good value. The cherries in the picture are Kordia, which are black cherry, and slightly larger than other varieties. When my husband saw them he thought they were fake as they were so perfect! If you’re interested in knowing more about the rental of your “own” tree then have a look at Rent A Cherry Tree.
Cherry growers often grow different varieties of cherries, so they’ll be ready at different times throughout the summer, as once the fruits are ripe they need picking fairly quickly, but if you’re thinking about buying some, don’t leave it too late as the main crops will have finished by mid to the end of August. When we prepare the cookery features for Woman’s Weekly we are working several months in advance, and so we often have to use imported cherries in our recipes for photography, but I always have to be very cautious about booking photo shoots as cherries are one of the very few fruits which are unavailable from anywhere a couple of times each year. Whereas fruits like grapes, strawberries and raspberries are usually available to be imported from somewhere if British ones aren’t available, there are times when fresh cherries just aren’t available – as I’ve found out in the past!
One of the classic cherry recipes has to be Cherry Pie which is delicious served hot with a dollop of vanilla ice-cream. I think that slightly sour cherries work best in this recipe. Morello cherries are one of the best known varieties of sour cherries, but any cherry that tastes a little too sour for eating as a fresh cherry can be used.
If you are going to be doing a lot of cherry recipes, then I’d recommend getting a good cherry pitter. I have an OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter from Lakeland which I find really good as it has a splatter shield, which the fruit drops down through, and I find that helps to direct the cherry to fall into a bowl, whereas models without that, sometimes it’s difficult to predict the direction that the cherry will come out. I’ve never actually tried using it for olives, but it has a place in my kitchen drawer just for pitting cherries. I find space in my kitchen at home is so limited that I don’t keep any gadgets that don’t work.
We’ve selected some of our favourite cherry recipes that are sure to go down a treat!