20 December 2018

Pick your own cherries for Christmas

| Genevieve Jacobs
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Ripe red cherries are a local Christmas treat. Photo: Kembla Cherry Orchard.

Looking for healthy and fun things to do with the kids or your interstate visitors over the next few days?

Are you still craving a few extra handfuls of fresh, festive-season cherries?

You’ve got two options: you can drive to Young, or pick your own cherries right here in Canberra at Kembla Cherry Orchard, just south of Tuggeranong. But you’ll need to hurry, the season’s almost at an end.

Ballinaclash Orchard at Young is owned by the Mullany family, who turned to pick-your-own as a way of diversifying their stonefruit operation. They grow grapes and other stonefruits as well as cherries, and welcome carloads of Canberrans throughout the season.

Cath Mullany says this has been a good year despite the drought. “We have irrigation for the trees, so the hot weather and enough water has meant that we’ve got good sized fruit and intense flavours”.

Ballinaclash was established by Peter Mullany’s parents in 1965 and is named for his father Mike’s Irish heritage. They’re currently picking Simone cherries, which Cath says are crisp, large and sweet, and Lapins, known for their deep ruby red colour and generous plump size.

Ballinaclash is open until Christmas, but given the weather call ahead before driving to Young on 0418 271 770.

Ballinaclash has been owned by the Mullany family since 1965. Photo: Supplied.

The Kembla Cherry Orchard is a little closer to home in Royalla, just 20 mins south of Tuggeranong. Owner Martin Corby says it’s been a funny year with the prolonged dry spell followed by recent heavy rain, but he hopes to be picking Sunburst cherries next. Sunburst is a sweet, white-fleshed cherry variety with very good flavour. Kembla Grange will open again for pick your own customers on the 26th, and Martin also suggests calling ahead to make sure they’re open on 0402 442 068.

Picking your own cherries is a great way to enjoy preparing for Christmas with the family. You just need to bring sun protection and covered shoes: you’ll be provided with buckets on arrival as well as some basic instructions in proper cherry-picking technique.

Then you’re free to spend a few hours out in the sunshine, wandering among the rows of trees and picking the sweet, shiny fruit to your heart’s content. You’ll end up with plenty of ripe cherries, cheaper than you can buy them in the supermarket, and with the added bonus of a fun day out with the family and knowing you’ve plucked them from the tree yourself.

And if you tire of the fresh fruit (impossible!), you can always try your hand at making your own cherry slice, cherry pie, chocolate-dipped cherries, or even make your own luscious cherry brandy!

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