Updated: Jan 31
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 are looking forward for Batlow cherries, they are the best in Australia I'm pretty sure! There are some varieties of cherries that grow in Québec but are smaller, more acidic and better for cooking. My grandmother had a wild cherry tree at the cottage and she loved them. I remember they were sour and leaving a dry sensation in the mouth but were beautiful little fruits. Most stable cherry production in Canada is in British Columbia. The Okanagan Valley have 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... but I was not such a quick picker and did not like climbing in high ladders, so my friends and I ended up doing a bit of sorting before heading to the Rockies (Rocky Mountains) to make better money in hotel work. Years later I "enrolled" to do some apple thinning in Australia's Snowys but ended up back in the cherry orchard as cherry picking and sorting had to be done first... It was at Mouats Farm* in Batlow, on my first summer in the region, and they grow both apples and cherries. Unfortunately I was still hopeless at it, and my back could not handle repetitive work like this (after many years of graphic design work sitting at the computer... that's what happens). But I still had a great time, we met lovely people and ate lots of cherries.
Mouats Farm cherries • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2018
When cherry season starts in Australia, that means Xmas holidays are not too far away. 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 in 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 seriously just eat them like that, like potato chips without guilt… well, with some limits of course as cherries can have some unwanted side effects if you eat too many as we all know... Cherries are packed with nutrients, antioxidants and vitamins so they are a good sweet snack with benefits. They are an early summer stone fruit, in season for only a few weeks so we are vey lucky to enjoy them during the holidays. They contribute to bring some magic as a substitute to the things I always miss at this time of the year.
Cherry magic • Photography © Bottle and Brush Studio 2020-21
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 just 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 in fruit we have to net it to protect the fruits from the cheeky birds. Each year I do a little hose battle with the cherry slugs as they are eating the leaves. This common pest is not easy to get rid of organically, but wood ash, diatomaceous earth and dolomite lime can also help against them. Cherry trees grow in temperate-latitude conditions and the cold weather time requirements depends on each variety to produce a crop of fruit. There are heaps of recipes to make with cherries like pies, cakes, crumble, sauce and jams but we end up eating them fresh most of the time… However, when I have a big lot, (like it sometimes happens when you know people growing fruit and offering you excess produce) I make some cherry cordial. Mixing a bit of the sweet syrup in water makes a lovely red colour drink! I don't give cherries to my chickens as the hard shell pit contains toxic compound, this is why it has to be removed to be cooked. I will surely explore more recipes with cherries, meanwhile, hope you enjoy a Cherry Christmas!
*LOCAL FEATURE: Mouats Farm is located in Batlow and offers fresh produce such as apples, cherries and other fruits in season and more. They have experienced significant damage from the Black Summer bushfires but have showed their considerable resilience and re-opened providing in season produce through their farm gate store. Their fruits are also available at Local at Learmonts.
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