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'Best in Show', RHS Tatton Park Show July 2016; Hertford cherries

‘Best in Show’: Hertford cherries at RHS Tatton Park Show July 2016

For the first time, cherries captured the ‘Best in Show’ prize for Adrian Baggaley; he also took many other prizes at the recent Royal Horticultural Society Tatton Park Show and gained a total of 16 firsts. Congratulation Adrian!

That exhibitors managed to stage cherries at all is remarkable in a year that has been difficult for English market growers, who are experiencing a poor harvest, at least in Kent. Rain and low temperatures, with one very cold night, at blossom time gave a poor fruit set and hence a low yield.

The prize winning, large and perfectly matching Hertford cherries were grown in Nottinghamshire, not a county where market cherries are grown and where Adrian says a north easterly wind has been blowing since February. Only recently has there been some respite from its chilly effects. He grows his Hertford cherries under permanent protection in a huge ‘box’ with a polythene cover across the top and fine mesh on the sides to keep off rain and birds. This covering at blossom time, he believes, ensured his good crop of cherries. Commercial fruit growers producing cherries in covered tunnels tend to put on the covers after blossom time. In their set-up, if these are erected before the flowers appear, a sunny day can send the temperatures soaring and there is the danger that it can get too high for effective pollination.

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King's Acre Pippin apple

King’s Acre Pippin apple

We will track the progress of fruit blossom during the coming weeks through its development in the National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, near Faversham, Kent. Our guide is Lorinda Jewsbury, who is going to give us information on a number of varieties in the Collection: dates when 10% of the buds are open, the tree is in full flower and when 90% of the petals have fallen. The varieties that Lorinda records are listed below with the dates observed so far. Updates will follow as we advance through blossom time.

The year’s season held off from 2014’s early show of flowers, with the apricots, plums, cherries and pears opening their blooms a good 2-3 weeks later than last year. In mid-April we had a few unusually warm and sunny days, which really set the blooms in motion. One moment there was barely a pear tree in blossom, the next saw the orchard awash with white flowers.

For the plums, a cluster of warm days gave a boost to the flowering times, with just 1-2 days between ‘10% of blossom open’ and ‘full flower’ for a number of varieties. It also gave a boost to the bees, butterflies and numerous other insects that appeared to be enjoying the sea of open flowers in the orchard. Hopefully they will have done a good job at pollinating the flowers for us and, weather permitting, a good crop will follow.

Lorinda Jewsbury

2015

PLUM

Cambridge Gage: 15th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower)

Czar: 7th April (10% open); 11th April (full flower)

Denniston’s Superb (Imperial Gage): 11th April (10% open); 14th April (full flower)

Farleigh Damson: 13th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

Marjorie’s Seedling: 15th April (10% open); 16th April (full flower)

Oullins Gage: 14th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

Pershore Yellow Egg: 14th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

Victoria: 13th April (10% open); 15th April (full flower)

PEAR

Concorde: 21st April (10% open)

Conference: 20th April (10% open)

Doyenne du Comice: 21st April (10% open)

Louise Bonne of Jersey: 15th April (10% open); 19th April (full flower)

CHERRY

Early Rivers: 16th April (10% open); 20th April (full flower)

Hertford: 18th April (10% open); 22nd April (full flower)

Lapins: 15th April (10% open); 18th April (full flower)

Merchant: 20th April (10% open)

Stella: 20th April (10% open)

Sunburst: 21st April (10% open)

APPLE

Blenheim Orange:

Bramley’s Seedling:

Cox’s Orange Pippin:

Crawley Beauty:

Discovery:

Egremont Russet:

Falstaff:

Feuillemorte:

Fiesta/Red Pippin:

Gala:

James Grieve:

Jonagold:

Meridian:

Red Astrachan: 16th April (10% open); 21st April (full flower)

St. Edmund’s Pippin:

Worcester Pearmain:

 

See below, in first comment,  for a course on pollination 26-28 June 2015 in Cambridge UK

 

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Sweetheart Cherry

Sweetheart Cherry

I read in The Times a letter, which said that cherry juice cured gout. There are quite a few articles on the web, but no research trials that I located. Expensive – ultimate anti-toxicant ?

Does anyone do serious research on all these wonder fruits?

I think that marketing has led to blueberries taking over from black currants, which to my mind are much nicer and need to be rediscovered.

Helen Self

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Coating cherries with chocolate

Coating cherries with chocolate

Cherries dipped in chocolate are a wonderful way to impress your dinner guests or give as a present to someone: they are simply delicious. To make these pretty dainties you will need: large, dark cherries with the stalks intact, washed and dried. I used the variety Hertford, home grown of course. This is a richly flavoured cherry, large and meaty with plenty of flesh making it ideally suited for this purpose. Kordia would be another good cherry to try.

The other ingredient is dark chocolate, melted in a small basin over a saucepan of hot water. A 200 gms bar will yield sufficient for well over 40 chocolate coated cherries. In my experience ‘cooking’ chocolate does not work, you need the best eating quality.

To successfully coat the cherries, you must devise a means of suspending each cherry by its stalk whilst the chocolate sets. I used my oval plastic hanger with pegs that usually holds socks, etc., on washday! Perhaps, a taunt string stretched between kitchen unit handles might work or a wire coat hanger and clothes pegs. But before you begin, remember to lay some greaseproof paper underneath to catch any drips.

The next step is to suspend the cherries, that is, attach them to the clothes pegs, then partially immerse each cherry, one by one, in the liquid chocolate by lifting the bowl of liquid chocolate up to the fruit and allow them to set. When they are ready, take great care dismantling them from their drying device and unpegging the cherries. Finally store in a box, or display and enjoy them! They will keep well in the fridge and are best served straight from the fridge.

Christine Baggaley

Photograph kindly supplied by Christine and Adrian Baggaley

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