Sunday, 10 July 2011

Life is a bowl of cherries...

Well, this afternoon was, anyway. We went to the Cherry Festival at Brogdale Farm in Kent. Although it has been raining a lot on and off recently, this afternoon while we were having our tour of the fruit orchards it was warm and sunny, so we couldn't have asked for better weather. We got to see and sample lots of different types of cherries (they have nearly 300 different varieties), all of them lovely and ripe and juicy and just picked from the tree, so that even the commercial varieties we tasted were wonderful and sweet. There were small cherries and large cherries, dark ones that were very nearly black, pale red ones and white cherries (the ones with yellow flesh and yellow and red skins, and even one variety that had a purely yellow skin, something that I had never seen before), sour cherries and not so sour (Dukes) which are good for cooking. I had read about Dukes, Montmorency and Bigarreau cherries in cookery books (Jane Grigson's Fruit book one of the main ones), but never actually seen or tasted any apart from the Morello cherries we have grown ourselves recently. Some of my favourites were Turkish Black, a small black variety (this particular one tasted better than some of the other small black varieties I tasted, I'm not sure if it's because some of the others were perhaps a bit overripe and not so sweet because of it), Napoleons (a sweet 'white' cherry), Donnisen's Gelbe, a variety with pure yellow skin, and I loved all of the three commercial varieties that I tasted - Stella, Lapins and Hertford. I think I had a slight preference for the Stella over the Lapins. We bought a punnet of Hertfords to take home. They had several varieties of cherries for sale, but the Hertfords were the only ones of those available that I had tasted on our orchard tour.

Varieties seen and/or tasted:

1. Durona di Vignola - dark red, didn't like this so much
2. di Pistoia - dark red, medium size, tough skin, didn't like this so much
3. Florence - light red with just a bit of yellow, hard skin, not really sweet or sour
4. Techlovicka - small, black, very soft and juicy
5. Donnisens Gelbe KnorpelKirsche - yellow skin, very nice, a favourite X
6. Strawberry Heart - small, light red, pointy end, very nice
7. Badacsonyi Orias - large, hard skin, but juicy and sweet
8. Wellingtons - medium size, dark red, very juicy
9. Magyar Pork - large, medium red color, quite nice
10. Vosenka - small, black, very soft and juicy
11. Alma - small, black, tough skin, I didn't like these
12. Early Buckenhays - very small, very shiny black, looks like a berry, very nice X
13. Pivka - old Czech variety, tasted possibly over-ripe
14. Mai Bigarreau - pale red or red/yellow skin, pale yellow flesh, juicy, not at all sour, one of my favourites, and D's also X
15. Sweetheart - red and yellow skin, small to medium size
16. Hoskin - looks like the major commercial varieities, size a bit smaller
17. Montmorency - small, light red, look like Morellos, maybe not quite as sour
18. Grosse Schwarze Knorpel - did not quite live up to its name; medium size, dark red
19. Techlovicka - medium size, nearly black
20. Centennial - small, red/yellow skin, D loved these, he thought they had loads of flavour X
21. Mramorovona - medium size, very black, possibly overripe but still sweet
22. Mary Jane - medium to large size, looks like the commercial varieties, not too sweet
23. Polstead Black - small and very dark
24. Olympus - large, medium red
25. Norwegian - small to medium size, red/yellow skin
26. Vic - looks like the main commercial varieties
27. Vega - pale red
28. Van - a main commercial variety, large, dark red
29. Amber - red/yellow skin
30. Pointed Black
31. Ironsides - from Midlands, red/yellow skin, not so sweet, but not so sour as Wesson Unknown
32. Mansfield Black - small, black, D liked these, but the one I tasted was too soft and not so tasty X
33. Inspector Lohnes - small, dark, pointy shape, nice, very soft and juicy
34. Black Glory - Kent, heart-shaped, quite dark
35. Wesson Unknown - yellow skin with some red, slightly sour
36. Hooker's Black - small, very dark red, nice flavour
37. Stella - a main commercial variety, self-fertile, large, dark red, dark flesh, juicy, one of my favourites X
38. Lapins - also a commercial variety, not quite as dark as Stella, I thought they weren't quite as sweet, and had a slight preference for Stella over Lapins; these ripened on the tree so probably taste better than ones we may have bought in the supemarkets X
39. Hertford - also a commercial variety, dark red, maybe a bit smaller than Stella and Lapins, maybe a bit darker skin, also juicy and delicious X
40. Napoleon (clone V1009) - red/yellow skin, yellow flesh, quite sweet, both D and I loved these X
41. Turkey Heart - small, black, ripe, not sweet (possibly overripe), tough skin
42. Turkish Black - very small, very black, nice, one of my favourites X
43. Kentish Morello - similar size and colour to the ones from our tree, sour
44. Kent Bigarreau - small, red/yellow skin, not so tasty
45. May Duke - not so dark red, a bit sharp
46. Schattenmorelle - small and light red, like ours were before they were fully ripe (our tree is apparently a Rhenish Schattenmorelle)
47. Morello (EMLA) - similar to the other Morellos, quite acid
48. 2002-143 - small, very black, not sweet, possibly overripe
49. Holovouska - medium size, black, tough skin
50. Werdersche Braune - black color, nice but possibly overripe

After tasting so many different varieties I think we were all cherried out, our taste buds were saturated, and it was hard to tell which variety we preferred over which other any more. We thoroughly enjoyed our day out and look forward to going back again next year. Pictures coming hopefully soon.
29/07/2011 Photos added.