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Published November 24th 2020
Keep calm and pick cherries
Fresh cherries - a highlight in summer for kids of all ages (by Hillside Orchard and Craft Centre)
Summer picnic tables aren't complete bowl of freshly chilled cherries as the centrepiece, enjoyed with cheese and crackers or ice-cream and cake.
Starting in November, head west on a day trip or weekend holiday to the Blue Mountains to claim your share. Pick your own cherries during honest farm work without the backpacker tax. Pick the cherry trees clean before swarms of tourists discover the orchards of sweet stonefruit.
Cherries are one of our healthiest superfoods, with the deep red skin and flesh rich in antioxidants and flavinoids, fight those dastardly free radicals. The tart or sour taste of Morello cherries, popular in jams and preserves, also pack a of anthocyanin, thought to aid arthritis and gout sufferers.
Picking Your Own (PYO) is easy hold the base of the stalk, nearest to the branch, between your thumb and first finger, then gently twist for a clean break. Choose fruit glowing with colour and with shiny, firm skin and bright green stems.
Once picked, keep them cool, ideally in the covered box supplied by the orchard or in an esky.
Begin the Pick Your Own adventure one of these 10 cherry farms in the Bathurst, Orange, Cowra and Young regions of New South Wales.
Allambie Orchard 3725 Olympic Highway, Wombat
3 hours west of Sydney, just south of Young, you can pick 20 different varieties of cherries.
Choose from Supremes, Eagles and Empress in mid-November, Vista, Black Star and white cherries in early-mid December and Lapins, sour cherries and Stella in the last weeks of the season in late December and early January.
The first weekend in December, in the middle of the peak season, is the perfect time to visit.
During the season, Allambie Orchard open for picking 7 days a week from 8am 6pm.
Ballinaclash Orchard & Cellar Door 4321 Olympic Highway South, Young
You'll find cherries but also plums and apricots to fill pick-your-own punnets and boxes
Ballinaclash Orchard & Cellar Door sells all things cherry, including cherry ice cream, pies, sauces, dessert wines and jams. For a lesson in the kitchen and garden, join the cherry pie baking classes and tours of their blossom gardens.
The grapevines produce award-winning wine, including a Cabernet Sauvignon.
Ballinaclash Orchard open 7 days during the season, starting in mid-November.
Arrive early to beat the afternoon sun, grab a bucket or bag and follow the guides through the to the ripest cherries in the organically farmed orchard. Pick your lot, stowing them in an esky for freshness. Book your picking session.
The vineyard at 10's Estate, with grapevines planted over 10 years, produce shiraz, cabernet, chardonnay, and sιmillon grapes. Book a wine tasting with cheese platter at the cellar door, or buy a few bottles
Bit o' Heaven PYO Cherry Orchard Fontenoy Road, Young
You can also PYO plums and grapes in December. They open again for another plum and grape PYO season in February and March. Contact Bit o' Heaven PYO Cherry Orchard on (02) 6384 3353.
Gleann Mohr Farm 4249 Olympic Highway, Young
You can also pick strawberries and peaches during December and January.
Sample local farm-fresh eggs and honey or treat yourself to fruity homemade jams and pies in the farm store.
Gleann Mohr opens 7 days a week from 9am, mobile # 0438 593 423, email.
Cherries ripe for the eating (by Main Range Cherry Orchard)
Hillside Harvest 1209 The Escort Way, Borenore
In the Orange District, you can PYO cherries in November and December.
Their trees picked clean by Christmas but pickers can grab apricots, blackberries, boysenberries, nectarines, peaches and plums in January and February.
In autumn, pick the lunchbox staples apples and pears.
The Hillside Orchard and Craft Centre store has the classic country grocer feel. It's a large tin shed with wooden shelves lining the walls containing fruit, jams and preserves. In the refrigerators and stacked on wooden crates, fresh veges, eggs and oils are available.
Contact Hillside Harvest on (02) 6365 2247 or on Facebook.
Cherry Hill 62 Young Road, Cowra
In the open countryside of regional NSW, Olympic Highway in Young is a cosy collection of cherry farms within a tiny 10km radius. Branch out from the crowds, and drive north from Young for 1hr to visit Cherry Hill in Cowra.
While in town, stroll in the Zen garden at the Cowra Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre, and ask, "How's the serenity?"
Contact Cherry Hill on (02) 6382 2513.
Lynton Orchards Corner of Roberts Road and Olympic Highwayy, Young
Approximately 6km south of Young, Lynton grows a range of stonefruit for PYO enthusiasts, including apricots, nectarines and plums.
The orchards are lined with long rows of cherry blossoms, in a field of glowing whites and pinks stretching to the horizon.
In the grocery store, beneath 'Waitawhile Rd', stock up on honey, free-range eggs, boxes of cherries and Janerik green plums, fibre-rich and very sour.
Contact Lynton Orchards on 0405 555 145, via email or Facebook, where they post regular photo updates on the flowering cherry trees.
Main Range Cherry Orchard 920 Boundary Road, Young
You can PYO cherries, filling the 5kg buckets before slipping them into an esky for cool storage on the drive home.
During the season, ending in December, you can pick from 8am-5pm on weekends. Be quick though - during last session, trees were picked clean by mid-December.
Entry is free and each kilo costs only $8. You can also tour with the owners, learning the secrets from the picking and packing experts.
If you get a taste for picking, make a career change to work in the orchard, either picking or packing cherries for sale.