Thursday, 17 July 2008

Cherry aid for Britain

Saturday (July 19) is the first British Cherry Day, a rallying cry to get the cherry out of a jam and back on top. In the past 50 years England has lost 90 per cent of its cherry orchards and now imports about 95 per cent of its cherries.

Organised cherry orchards were a Tudor invention, but the Romans brought the first cherry trees to Britain from Persia. It is said that you can trace old Roman roads by the wild cherry trees that grew up from the stones spat out by legions as the marched across the country.

Backed by chefs such as Raymond Blanc and Mark Hix, Cherry Aid - the campaign not the medicinal coloured pop – aims to get everyone to bite into at least one home-grown cherry this year and help save traditional orchards.

Cherries are delicious eaten fresh or dipped in melted chocolate. Kent’s Simply Ice Cream makes an ice cream from local cherries (01233 720922) and Mrs Huddleston sells a luxury black cherry and cranberry preserve with kirsch (01296 712005). Carr Taylor’s rose-red cherry wine (£4.95; mixes well with brandy or vodka and can be added to desserts or gravy when serving duck.

At Borough Market in London, try specially-made Cherry Down Cheese from the Kent Cheese Co and Sillfield Farm’s wild boar and cherry pie.
The Ludlow Food Centre in Shropshire will be selling traditional variety cherries and cherry ice cream.
Several cherry orchards are open this weekend in Kent, including the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale which will be hosting cookery demonstrations, tastings and walks. For information on cherry-themed events around the country and a guide to where to pick and buy fresh cherries visit

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