A Cherry on Top
Of all tree fruits the cherry stands head and shoulders above the rest for sheer juicy indulgence and lip-staining goodness. These tempting teasers fill the mouth with their moreish aroma, an almost addictive experience that’s led to many a sugar rush.
In Japan, when the cherry blossom flowers it is cause for huge celebrations. People congregate for hanami or flower viewings and hold picnics and parties under the pink and white boughs during this beautiful but briefest of seasons.
Cherries are descended from two wild species: sweet and sour. Although the majority of cherries available today are sweet, many classic recipes such as Black Forest gâteau, kirsch and cherry compote were devised with the more complex-flavoured sour cherry in mind.
There are a few types of cherry which can be harvested from late June to August, a relatively short season, so make the most of them. A July fruiting cherry is ‘Stella’ which produces deliciously sweet and juicy dessert cherries that are perfect for a summer feast fresh off the tree.
How to grow
Cherry trees need well-drained soil and a sunny but sheltered spot in the garden. Make sure you dig in some organic matter, such as well-rotted manure. Give it a good water and tie the tree to a stake. If you are growing in a container, use a large pot and some soil-based compost.
Give your tree a good mulch towards the end of winter (late February) and be sure to protect the delicate blossoms from frosts with a horticultural fleece. As the fruit starts to form make sure the tree is well watered to help swell the fruits. Don’t forget to prune to keep your tree healthy.
Pick your cherries via the stalks – they bruise easily so take care. Make sure you get to them before the birds do, because they are an easy sweet treat so you may want to protect your harvest with some netting.
Eat dessert cherries immediately – you’ll be rewarded with a heavenly flavour – or store them in the fridge in polythene bags for up to a week, while browsing recipe books for delectable ways in which you can savour the sour varieties.
Cherries have more potassium than both strawberries and apples, and the cancer-busting team of fibre, vitamin C and carotenoids really pack a punch. They are a natural source of melatonin, a hormone that helps control sleep too.
Where to buy
For a superb range of cherry trees head to Grow at Brogdale, Faversham ME13 8XZ or visit brogdaleonline.co.uk.