What's In Season Cherries
The Australian Women's Weekly Food|Issue 66 2020
Make the most of all-too-short cherry season with some of our favourite recipes, both savoury and sweet.
Plump, juicy cherries - how beautiful they are. With their rich colour and subtle lustre, they’ve inspired artists and poets for centuries. Here in Australia, cherries are among the few truly seasonal fruits still left in our markets. While imported cherries are sometimes available during our off-season, every summer, the appearance of locally grown cherries is anticipated with much excitement. Most of those that come to market are black cherries - the dark, fleshy varieties. You will sometimes see bright red or ‘white’ varieties, which are actually cream with a red blush. Australian-grown cherries are highly regarded and available from mid or late October to late February. The Australian crop yields upwards of 12,000 tonnes each year for domestic and export consumption. All cherries have one thing in common, however - they are absolutely delicious and bring happiness and enjoyment to many.

VARIETIES

There are two main species of cherries: sweet and sour. Most sold in markets are sweet. Sour cherries are generally used in processed foods, preserves and juices, and to make cherry brandy. About 50 varieties are grown in Australia, with more being developed. The more widely available varieties include: Merchants, Supreme, Ron Seedlings, Bing, Lapin, Sweetheart and Sweet Georgia. These range from light red to an almost black skin, with red flesh and sweet juice. The morello cherry, a sour variety, is grown predominantly in Europe, although there are some growers in Australia’s southern states.

CHOOSING CHERRIES

Cherries are harvested ripe and are best stored in the fridge. Wash and dry, then loosely pack in a covered container before refrigerating. Leave stems attached as they help to keep cherries fresh.

PURCHASING AUSTRALIAN CHERRIES

Buy fresh cherries direct from the growers at biteriot.com.au. The Hall family has been growing quality produce for more than 40 years at the foot of Mt Canobolas in Orange, NSW, Australia’s highest altitude cherry-growing region. Rich volcanic soil, clean mountain water, warm, sunny days and cool, clear nights combine to create the ideal conditions for cherries.

FRUIT

Avocados

Apricots Berries: blackberries, blueberries, mulberries, raspberries, strawberries

Cherries

Grapefruit

Loquats

Mangoes

Melons

Nectarines

Oranges: Valencia

Papaya

Passionfruit

Peaches Pineapples

VEGETABLES

Asian greens

Asparagus Beans: butter, flat, green

Capsicums

Cucumbers

Eggplant

Lettuces Onions: green, spring

Silverbeet

Spinach

Sweetcorn

Tomatoes

Watercress

Zucchini

PICKLED CHERRIES

PREP + COOK TIME 30 MINUTES (+ COOLING) MAKES ABOUT 3 CUPS (750ML)

½ cup (125ml) marsala (fortified wine)

½ cup (125ml) malt vinegar

1 cup (220g) caster sugar

1 bay leaf

4 whole cloves

1kg cherries, stones removed

1 Cook marsala, vinegar, sugar, bay leaf and cloves in a medium saucepan over low heat, stirring until the sugar dissolves. Add cherries; bring to the boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes or until cherries have just softened and liquid is reduced slightly.

2 Spoon cherries into hot sterilised jars; seal with lids. Cool to room temperature.

3 Serve with turkey, ham or roast pork.

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