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One of summer's delights is our sweet stone fruit. The juicy flavours of apricots, nectarines, peaches and plums join cherries as a guilt-free pleasure during our hottest months. In the Fleurieu Peninsula and Adelaide Hills, only an hour's drive east from the Adelaide, over 20 growers open their gates to the public. We're invited to pick our own cherries or choose a box or bag of their freshest to take home.
Super foods are natural foods considered to be packed with nutrients, antioxidants and phytochemicals. In 2017, blackcurrants, chickpeas, rock salts and Maqui berries are being touted as the new superfoods. While trends change, cherries have been considered a superfood since the term was created. The vitamin A and antioxidant levels have been reported to balance blood sugar levels, improving sleep patterns and diabetes symptoms. Cherries can also reduce inflammation, aiding the battle against memory loss, gout and arthritis.
In South Australia's cherry farms, you can pick your own cherries between November and January. There may be a small entry fee though, allowing you to taste test to discover your favourite variety. As you visit different farms and regions, take note of the available varieties, changing as the conditions change. There are dozens to choose from, including Lapin, Sweetheart, Merchant and Van. The white cherry is particularly sought-after.
Like most fruit, pick cherries when as they ripen, when the skin is firm and shiny and the stem is a glowing green. Cherries can be chilled or frozen to be enjoyed throughout the year. Rinse cherries and remove the stems just before eating, storing them in the fridge until ready. You can also wash and dry the cherries to freeze them in airtight containers. They are also versatile, making a great alternative to strawberries to accompany cheese and cracker platters and chocolate desserts.
Begin your search for the perfect cherry at one of these 10 farms in the Adelaide Hills and Fleurieu Peninsula.
(by Unsplash / Public Domain)
Lennane Orchards At 814D Montacute Rd, Montacute, you can also pick raspberries, lemons or buy pre-picked cherries and fresh ice creams in the café. Cherries are usually ready for picking from the first week in November. If you're arriving from Adelaide, take a short detour south on Norton Rd before reaching the orchards to visit the walking trails and tumbling waterfall at Morialta Falls. The orchards are open from 9am 6pm, 7 days a week. Contact them on (08) 8390 2271, visit the website, or check the Facebook page for updates.
Martin Hill Cherries At 309 Martin Hill Rd, Forreston in the Gumeracha region, you can pick or buy boxed cherries and rhubarb after the Boxing Day sales begin. Take a short drive south on Warren Rd to admire over 300 classic vehicles at the National Motor Museum in Birdwood or the world's biggest rocking horse in Gumeracha. The farm is open from 8am 7pm every day, you can contact them on (08) 8389 1118 or visit their Facebook page.
Kersbrook Cherry Farm At 1718 South Para Rd in the Kersbrook region, white and dark cherries can be picked or you can buy a box of cherries during late November through to mid-December. Nearby, you can visit a few wineries in the Barossa. Need to talk to a distant friend and your smartphone is dead? Use the Whispering Wall - the Barossa Reservoir, in Williamstown. The smooth curve of the dam wall and the steep drop creates a parabola, bouncing your voice over 140 metres. Open from 9am 5pm every day, you can contact the farm on (08) 8389 2231.
Plummers Border Valley Orchards At 32 Plummers Rd, Forest Range. Pick-your-own, choosing from 10 varieties. Open from December to mid-January from 9am 5pm, 7 days a week. Cherries and perfect with chocolate drive south-east via the B34 for Melba's Chocolate Factory. Contact the orchard on 0407 716 929 or visit the website.
Harrisville Orchards At 72 Harris Rd, Lenswood. Pick cherries or buy cherries during the season, usually beginning in mid to late-November. In May, pick up some pick lady apples, award winners at the Royal Adelaide Show. You can also cool off with fresh apple and cherry juice. Open throughout December and early January from 9am 5.30pm Monday - Saturday. Contact the orchard on 0407 427 747 or visit the website or Facebook page.
BP Organic Cherry Farm At 437 Mawson Rd, Lenswood, you can pick organic white, sour and red cherries or buy a box or bag of pre-picked cherries. They also grow figs, plums, prunes and The orchards are open from 9am 5pm, 7 days a week, including Christmas Day. Contact them on (08) 8389 8222 or check the Facebook page.
Cherrytime Orchard At 1917 Lobethal St, Lobethal. Pick-your-own or buy pre-picked cherries. Open from 10am 6pm, 7 days a week. Contact the orchard on (08) 8389 6902 or visit the Facebook page.
Fleurieu Cherries At 159 Pages Flat Rd, Pages Flat, you can also buy 20 varieties of picked cherries, cherry jams, liqueur and ice cream. Celebrate your harvest with chocolate and a wine tasting at the cellar. Open from 9am 6pm, 7 days a week. Contact the farm on (08) 8556 1314 or visit the website or Facebook page.
Marble Hill Cherries At 25 Marble Hill Rd, Ashton. Pick-your-own cherries then browse the choices of ice cream, jam and vinegar. Visit on the weekend for the barbecue. Open for picking in December and early January from 9am 6pm, Wednesday to Sunday but closed on Boxing Day. Continue north-east for the historic Marble Hill Ruins with open days and a winery. Contact the farm on (08) 8390 0327 or visit the website.
Cherries at Verdun At Beaumont Rd, Verdunin the Balhannah region. Opened in 1847, pick-your-own at this family farm from December to early January from 9am 5pm, 7 days a week. Hahndorf, our oldest surviving German settlement, Heysen the Cedars, the heritage home and artist's studio, and Beerenberg Strawberry Farm are a short drive south. Contact the farm on (08) 8388 7048 or visit the Facebook page.
The Cherry Growers Association of South Australia also has a Fresh Cherries App with a map to guide you to each farm. Their website also has recipes, health and storage tips.
Where have you found the consummate cherry? Please let us know with a comment.