In the Snowys, cherries are the favourite festive fruit, in season just before Xmas celebrations.
Every early summer (which is in December in the Southern Hemisphere), we look forward to our local cherries! When the cherry season starts in Australia, Xmas holidays are not too far away. The timing could not be more perfect than that, as these dark red jewels are a perfect treat for summer, and everyone loves them. Cherries make a lovely edible ornamental display, making stunning additions to a grazing platter and on top of the iconic pavlovas, along with strawberries and berries, also in season. I don't like cooking with them so much as I am lazy for pitting them. We eat them like that, like potato chips without guilt… well, with some limits, of course, as cherries can have unwanted side effects if you eat too many... Cherries are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins so they are an excellent sweet snack with benefits. They are an early summer stone fruit, in season for only a few weeks so we are fortunate to enjoy them fresh on the holiday table. They contribute to bringing some magic as a substitute for the things I always miss at this time of the year.
Cherry magic • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020-21
The most stable cherry production in Canada is in British Columbia. The Okanagan Valley has ideal conditions to grow the most popular varieties of dark red fleshy sweet cherries like the heart-shaped "Bing". Going picking cherries "in the west" is what many young Québécois do as a summer job and first backpacking experience. I did it too, but I was not a quick picker and did not like climbing high ladders. Years later, when I moved to Australia, I "enrolled" to do some apple thinning in Batlow but ended up back in the cherry orchard (as cherry picking and sorting had to be done first). Unfortunately, I was still hopeless at it, and my back could not handle the repetitive work of picking or sorting at the packing house. But I still had a great time with the lovely people we met and ate many cherries.
Batlow farmed cherries • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2018
GROWING & COOKING TIPS
Our tree is still small as it was planted only a few years ago, but picking and eating your homegrown cherries is amazing! Cherry trees make a stunning show in spring blossoming and I planted our "Lapin" tree just in front of the house so I can look at it from my studio room window. While it's fruiting we have to net it to protect the fruits from the cheeky birds. I do a little hose battle with the cherry slugs each year as they eat the leaves. This common pest is not easy to eliminate organically, but wood ash, diatomaceous earth, and dolomite lime can also help fight them. Cherry trees grow in temperate-latitude conditions and the cold weather time requirements depend on each variety to produce a fruit crop. There are heaps of recipes to make with cherries like pies, cakes, crumble, sauce, cordial and preserves but we eat them fresh most of the time as the seasons go so quickly! I don't give cherries to my chickens as the hard shell pit contains toxic compound, so it has to be removed to be cooked. I will surely explore more recipes with cherries. I hope you enjoy a Cherry Christmas!
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