Cherries are fleshy stone fruits of which there are 80 varieties grown in Australia. They have a short growing season of three to four months, usually peaking in December in Australia and hence the fruit’s association with Christmas. Having been grown in Australia since the late 1800s, cherries are primarily grown in temperate regions within South Australia, NSW, Victoria and Tasmania.
The most common varieties of cherries grown in Australia include ‘Merchant’, ‘Bing’, ‘Stella’, ‘Lapin’, ‘Van’, ‘Sweetheart’, ‘Empress’, ‘Simone’ and ‘Kordia’. Distinguishing features of the different varieties include maturity, colour, size, texture and flavour. ‘Lapin’ cherries are sweet cherries with a dark red ruby skin, deep red flesh and are quite large. In comparison, ‘Bing’ cherries are also sweet and slightly heart-shaped, with dark maroon coloured skin. Across the different varieties, all cherries have several health benefits, as they contain a range of vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds.
According to Adelaide Showground Farmers’ Market stallholder Claude Conterno, from Merry Cherry Farms, cherries are best stored in the fridge in an airtight container to ensure they stay crisp and last longer. Claude mentions that size does not have an impact on the taste of cherries and that smaller cherries can be just as flavoursome as larger cherries. He says that cherries are best eaten fresh, but they can also be used as a nice addition to a cheese plate or in other recipes to add a sweet, rich, fruity flavour to dishes.
Cherries can be found at the Showground Farmers’ Market at Eko Fresh Fruit, Merry Cherry Farms and Cherryville Farm from late November. Ashbourne Valley Orchards will be offering their Fleurieu Peninsula grown cherries later in the season. Eko Fresh Fruit will also be at Prospect Farmers’ Market.