Flavour of the month: cherries

06 December, 2016 by
Julio Azzarello

Bright red, crimson and yellow are some of the colours associated with this sweet, crisp stone fruit.

The origins of this fruit are a little sketchy. It is believed that the fruit was found in Asia, though literary historians often talk about the cherry tree in both Greek and Roman history.

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The versatility of this fruit sees no boundaries and is a great indicator that spring has sprung and summer is on its way. Farmers call it the Hundred Days of Cherries, October – January.

Sourcing
Australian cherries are grown in Queensland, NSW, Victoria, South Australia and Tasmania. Queensland, NSW and Victoria are first on the scene followed by South Australia and Tasmania. Tasmania has the shortest harvest window, yet the third highest harvest volume.

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We have more than 80 varieties of cherries growing in Australia. The common varieties grown are Bing, Stella, Lapin, Van Sweetheart, Empress, Simone and Kordia.

There is approximately 15,000 tonnes of fruit picked during the season which represents .5 percent of the world’s total production.

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Flavour matches
A good cherry has its own special characteristics: crisp, clean, fresh and juicy. Some think of them as plum like and even nectarine like when compared to the whiter fleshed cherry.

Classic pairings include:

  • Apricots
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon
  • Chocolate
  • Citrus fruits
  • Basil
  • Mint
  • Roast pork

Tasty applications
Truly a versatile little fruit with stacks of flavour and juice, cherries lend themselves to:

  • Compotes
  • Chutneys
  • Baking
  • Poaching
  • Pickling

Pitted cherries make a great sauce, both hot and cold to pour over vanilla bean ice-cream and butter milk pancakes. I love to place cherries in a bottle and top up with a good brandy, pitted cherries in a baked frangipane tart are gorgeous, as are cider vinegar and chilli pickled cherries with game meats.

Storage
Cherries suffer from seasonal factors such as rainfall, humidity and frost so with that in mind storing tips are quite the same. Only wash cherries when you are ready to eat them. Place on a tray in the fridge until chilled then put them in a plastic container and if freezing, try placing in a zip lock bag and keeping them flat. Remember the quicker they freeze the better they will be when you defrost them.

Julio Azzarello, Gourmand Providore, Sydney Markets.