We grow 20 varieties of cherry in our orchard including sweet and sour types.
The majority of our cherries are juicy and sweet, while the sour type are fantastic for pickling and making brandied or glacé cherries.
Some of the most popular varieties we grow include 'Van', 'Stella' and 'Lapin' which are plump and juicy with a moderately crunchy flesh. We also grow some specialty types like white-fleshed cherries ('Dame Nancy') and extra large cherries ('Glacier').
The great thing about growing so many varieties is that they ripen one after the other, ensuring that we have plenty of fresh cherries available from early December through to after Christmas. You may even have a choice of multiple varieties when you visit our farm gate.
WHAT MAKES A GOOD CHERRY:
The best cherries are fresh cherries, eaten within a few hours or days after picking, but they will keep reasonably well in a cool fridge. Preference of an exact variety will vary between people but there are a few key factors which determine when cherries will taste their best:
1. Age - how long since the cherry was picked? The stem of the cherry is a good indicator - it should be plump and green, not browning, dried or shriveled.
2. Skin - Fresh cherries will have glossy and shiny skin which is taught and 'pops' when bitten and the flesh is juicy and crunchy. Old cherries appear dull, brown, soft, and are soggy to eat.
3. Size - Size is in no way important to the quality or flavor of a cherry. In fact some of the smallest are delicious and some larger ones simply taste watery. Size is purely personal choice.
4. Damage - Some degree of imperfection is common when cherries are grown in a low-spray and biologically diverse environment. Blemishes on the skin such as scuffing or scarring can occur when cherries rub on branches or leaves but these do not affect the taste or storage of the fruit. Avoid cherries with damage to the skin which leaves the flesh exposed however, as this causes cherries to become mouldy and soft quickly - especially in a damp bag or fridge.
Our freshly picked cherries can be kept in the fridge for approximately 1 week, although we often hear our customers have finished them long before then!
The best way to store them in the fridge is by:
- Placing them in an OPEN bag, box, or container in the fridge until they are cold. This ensures that condensation does not form on the cherries from within the bag or box as they cool.
- Once they are cold, close the bag, box, or container lightly to prevent moisture from evaporating from the flesh and stem of the cherry.
- Monitor the cherries and make sure that ones at the base of the container are not getting squashed as they may begin to soften and deteriorate more quickly. Remove any soft or soggy cherries you find as these will start to make the others soften too.
If you are planning on having cherries at Christmas, please pick or purchase them in the few days before - cherries are like other soft fruits in that they will not keep more than a week.