Do you know February is called the Cherry Month? Yes! In this month, especially during the Lunar New Year when people exchange gifts, many fruit stores on the street, be they big or small, will fill their shops with cherries of all kinds and from everywhere in the world. Once you chew open the crust, each and every sweet-looking, bright-red cherries will release all their juice in your mouth. What a sweetness overload!
Cherries are so likeable, not just because of their taste, but also because of their nutritional value. They contain Vitamin C, Iron, Potassium, dietary fiber and natural Melatonin etc, which are good for skincare, pain relief and insomnia. No wonder many people are choosing cherries over chocolate and cookies as new year gifts in recent years!
However, as an exquisite present, you cannot afford to make any mistakes. Which place produces the sweetest cherries? Where do they come with a more economical price tag? Let’s read on!
Contest between places of origin: Tasmanian cherries have the most elaborate grading!
When it comes to places of origin for cherries, many people think immediately of Tasmania in Australia. This darling in the cherry world owes its popularity to the mild climate, and less pollution in the soil and waters there, which make the best of cherries!
Tasmanian cherries are known for their crispy crust and tender fruit, and their sweet and rich odour. Some farmers even grade Tasmanian cherries on five tiers according to their harvest period, among them “Lapin” has the highest quality, tastes the sweetest, tenderest and juiciest. Also, Tasmanian cherries are also graded based on their size, with most of them 30mm+/32mm+ or 34mm+. Of course, the bigger the size, the pricier they get.
With such an elaborate grading system, their prices are of course ahead of the curve too. Most Tasmanian cherries are sold in their original editions in a 2kg box, those from major farms would easily cost more than HK$500. That would of course make an appropriate gift, but if you have a tight budget, what other choices do you have?
Because the Cherry Month is winter season in the northern hemisphere, therefore cherries are hard to be found in countries such as America, Canada and Japan that you may be more familiar with.
By contrast, they are prevalent in South America, Australia and New Zealand. In recent years, Chile has become a new favourite of the market, even though it produces less sweet cherries, which may not be as tender and crispy as those from Australia, but it is more economical in terms of price. You can find types and sizes of cherries that are cheaper. But of course, there are also some bigger ones such as those priced in the 4J grade that can rival Australia’s cherries.
Rainier Cherry: the sweetest new favourite
In recent years, apart from traditional dark red cherries, there is another kind with a mixed colour of gold and bright red that is often seen as well. It’s called Rainier cherry, which is a cross between different types. The main difference is it is sweeter than traditional cherries, and crunchier too. However, owing to a shorter availability period, and a lower yield, they are pricier than the normal ones whether they are from Australia or Chile.
How to choose cherries? Emerald green fruit branches are the key!
Cherries from different places of origins differ in taste and crunchiness. That’s why it’s important to pay attention to the freshness, and not just the taste, when choosing cherries.
In terms of freshness, Tasmanian cherries always come with detailed information about their farms, which give better guarantees of quality. More importantly, Tasmanian cherries are shipped to Hong Kong 3 days after harvest, with tight quality control in Australia, therefore guaranteeing their freshness and safety. As for other places such as Chile, they have a longer transportation time, so it’s more crucial to keep an eye on the following features.
When choosing cherries, remember if they are joined with a long and emerald green branch, that means they are very fresh. Good cherries must also look full and bright, with its fruit firm and its surface smooth and without cracks. If cherries start to grow black, have wrinkles, or feel soft when you press them, that means they are no longer fresh.
When it comes to choosing Rainier cherries, you also need to look at the branch first. Green means they are fresh, but also pay attention to the width rather than just the length. The thicker the branch, the more nutrition it can bring to the fruit, and therefore the sweeter and juicier the cherries. The darkness of colour of the cherries is less important, as long as they look full and bright, that means they are fresh.
Washing cherries, don’t soak them!
How should you wash the cherries after purchasing them? In fact, cherries need not be soaked, all you need is to wash them under running water, and remember not to remove the branch when you wash, otherwise the contaminants in the water may seep into the fruit.
If you want to be even safer, you can fill a large bowl with clean water, and put in some specially-made fruit wash or 1 spoonful of flour, and massage the cherries gently, finally clean them with water, then they are ready for consumption.
Apart from direct consumption, cherries can be matched with yoghurt and oat and turned into healthy snacks. Here is a simple and nutritious recipe, try it some time!
Healthy cherry crumb
● Cherries (without seed) 3 cups
● Flour ½ cups
● Oatmeal ¾ cups
● Palm sugar ½ cups
● Almond (sliced) ⅓ cups
● Cinnamon ½ tablespoon
● Sea salt ½ tablespoon
● Solid coconut oil ⅓ cups (can be replaced with unsalted butter)