Emma Crowhurst takes the first bite of the cherry...and the second and third

National Cherry Day is upon us. Henrietta Green’s FoodLovers Britain group is running the CherryAid campaign to promote and support the British cherry, leading up to British Cherry Day on Monday.

Did you know that just 10 cherries can make up one of your five a day? Cherries are nutritious and help fight disease and other illnesses. They contain anthocyanins, which are potent antioxidants and are being researched for a variety of potential health benefits. Helping you to sleep, serving as a kind of pain-relieving aspirin and fighting against ageing, this is one super-cherry!

This year CherryAid is encouraging us to support the Great British Cherry. The Romana first brought cherries from Persia and introduced them to Britain. Some even say that ancient roads can be traced from the spots where marching Romans spat out their seeds and caused a new tree to grow!

But over the last 50 years we’ve seen a decline in our cherry orchards. This means we now import around 95% of all cherries.

So the main goal of National Cherry Day is to maintain our traditional orchards. If everyone eats one home-grown cherry each, the future of British cherries will be looking up in no time!

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And they can be eaten in so many different ways – anywhere you would use summer fruit: summer pudding, meringues, cherry cobbler or even crumble. My favourite way is straight from the bag.

Mid-July marks the height of the all-too-brief British cherry season. For their sublime aroma and intense sweetness, and for the sake of our desperately-declining cherry orchards, do whatever it takes to find and eat some British cherries over the next couple of weeks.

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This has been a difficult year for British cherry growers, whose expectations of a good season have been dashed by wind, late frost and rain.

Fryers Farm Shop at Lawford, Manningtree, grows 13 varieties of cherry. They started picking last week and are expecting to pick for six weeks. Go to their website to see the types of cherry and availability.

Lathcoats Farm shop, Chelmsford, grows six varieties and does “pick your own”.

Sweet cherries

Sweet cherries are larger than sour cherries. They are heart-shaped and have sweet, firm flesh. They range in colour from golden red-blushed Royal Ann to dark red to purplish-black. Bing, Lambert and Tartarian are other popular dark cherries. Sweet cherries also work well in cooked dishes.

Sour cherries

Normally too tart to eat raw, sour cherries are smaller than their sweet cousins, and more globular in shape, with softer flesh. The Early Richmond variety is the first available in late spring and is bright red in colour, with the Montmorency soon following. The dark red Morello variety is another popular sour cherry. Sour cherries are normally cooked with sugar and used for pies, preserves, and relishes.

Later this summer look out for the Morello cherry, also known as a sour cherry. It ripens in mid to late summer and the season continues into August in southern England. It differs from the sweet cherry and does need to be cooked with sugar. Last year Alder Carr Cream Ice, based at Needham Market, had the most delicious Morello cherry-flavour cream ice. Look out for it this year.

Alder Carr Ice Cream uses an exceptionally high fruit content to create the perfect balance between the fresh taste of sorbet and the rich creaminess of dairy ice cream. With only fresh fruit, cream and sugar in the small, handmade batches, there are no artificial flavourings, colourings or preservatives in a frozen dessert that is creamy and exceptionally fresh.

Over 60% of the fruit used comes from Alder Carr Farm or the family’s farm at Bury St Edmunds. The remainder is grown on small farms within East Anglia.

Look out for Audrey, the converted 1967 Morris ambulance, at Helmingham Dog Day on July 29. A must-visit for any dog lovers.

They’ll be serving up some of the most delicious cream ice you can find, including the famous cherry flavour, which is expected to sell out fast.

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