- A member of the rose family
- Known as a drupe, i.e. a fleshy, one seeded fruit
- Spherical in shape
- Approximately 2cm in diameter
- Deep red/burgundy, edible skin
- Flesh can range in colour from pink to burgundy
Cherry trees are quite large. Genetic dwarf varieties have been developed, not only to save space but to enable netting of trees to prevent fruit spoilage by birds.
Choose cherries that are plump, firm and dark red in colour for the best flavor, with a fresh green stem. Avoid small, pale cherries, which are dull in colour, as they may be immature and lacking in juice and flavor. Also avoid over ripe fruit, which are soft and dull and often bruised or split.
When buying cherries, there are two types to choose from, being the red/black varieties or white varieties. Red/black varieties may be used fresh or cooked, while white types are best for cooking and preserving.
To enjoy the flavor of fresh, sweet cherries, use within three to four days. Wash just before use and pat dry with a clean tea towel. When using in a recipe, remove stems and remove stones with a special cherry stoner, available from kitchenware shops.
Cherries can be added to salads, used in gateau, on Pavlovas as a garnish, marinated in port and served as a delicious desert with cream or ice cream, added to fruit salads or enjoyed fresh as festive fruit of the season. Cherries can also be frozen. Place 500g of washed, dried, stemmed cherries in a clean freezer bag; remove air, seal, label and freeze.
Cherries have a fairly high chilling requirement and therefore do best in a region, which has cold winters. Cherries require good drainage.
More than 100 species and some 1200 cultivars of cherries are known. The cherry is indigenous in some form or other in the temperate zones of the northern hemisphere, but the present commercial varieties probably originated from the Caucasus, between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea.
Records of cherries are found in the very earliest historical writings and almost all our present day varieties are chance seedling selections.
About 100 cherry varieties are grown in Australia and New Zealand. Many of these came from England and originally from France. Lately Canadian and US varieties have been introduced.
Burgsdoff, Eagle Seedling, Rons Seedling, Samba, Brook, Bing, Chelan, Stella, Van, Vega, Index, Sunburst, Lapins
NSW - Bathurst, Camden, Coffs Harbour, Dareton, Gosford, Murrumbidgee Irrigation Area, Orange, Tumut, Windsor, Young
VIC - Eastern Metropolitan Area, Mornington Peninsula, Wandin Valley, Wangaratta Area
TAS - Huon, Spreyton, Tamar Valley
SA - Adelaide Hills, South East
WA - Dwellingup, Manjimup, Perth Hills
Cherries are an excellent source of vitamin C and a useful source of potassium and dietary fibre. 250kJ/100g.
0°C at 90 - 100% relative humidity. Keep covered and away from refrigeration fans.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a short time.
The ancient Roman writer, Pliny, claimed that the Roman General Lucullus was so fond of cherries that he committed suicide when he realized he was running out of them.
The earliest known mention of cherries is in Theophrastus (237-272 B.C.) 'History of Plants', in which he indicated that cherries had been cultivated for hundreds of years in Greece.