Round up of Kent's Farmers' Markets
PUBLISHED: 15:54 23 May 2011 | UPDATED: 19:26 20 February 2013
The best summer fruits in the Garden of England
Round up of Kents Farmers Markets
One of the best things about summer is the promise of punnet after punnet of delicious summer berries and cherries. Whether you have a penchant for seasonal favourites such as strawberries, raspberries or cherries, or enjoy seeking out traditional English berries and fruits that are enjoying a resurgence (from loganberries and blackcurrants to redcurrants and gooseberries), there is nothing more summery than tucking into locally grown, freshly picked summer berries.
While award-winning Pine Trees Farm in Doddington is perhaps best known for its range of apple juices, the fifth generation family business also grows an impressive array of cherry varieties.
Indeed Pine Trees, which Kevin and Brenda Payne run with son Robert, grows a staggering 20 varieties of cherries which will hit the Farmers Markets in the third week of this month and will remain on sale throughout July.
The farm grows three varieties of the white cherries alone including Napolean, Merton Glory and Vega with Pine Trees growing a wide variety of traditional and new red varieties as well as my favourite, the traditional, juicy black varieties Bradbourne Black and Gaucher.
Kevin Payne believes Farmers Markets provides the best format for buying cherries. Customers can see, touch and most importantly taste our cherries. The fact that the cherries are picked so close to going on sale means customers are getting the best possible flavours and because we sell direct, our prices are as much as half those of most supermarket prices.
Sue McGaughey, of Cranbrook Conservesadds: There is still this frustrating perception that Farmers Markets are more expensive, but its just not true. In many cases we are cheaper than supermarkets and in most cases we are at the very least comparable, which is important when households are facing such a tough year.
Sue diversified into growing soft fruits on her small holding near Cranbrook when hop farming dwindled dramatically and hasnt looked back. Cranbrook Conserves appears at six Kent Farmers Markets with a selection of jam, chutney and other preserves, the majority of the fresh fruit and vegetables grown at Little Angley Farm Cottage.
The soft fruits business is an annual three-month bonus that runs from the end of June to September. Popular summer berries sold direct from Sues stall include everything from blueberries, blackcurrants and gooseberries, to strawberries, redcurrants and raspberries.
Buying and storing tips for cherries
â— Taste first the best way to buy cherries is with your taste buds so Pine Trees Farms always encourages customers to try before you buy
â— Look for the shine a bright, shiny glean to the fruit is a great indicator of freshness
â— Half the price during 2010 English cherries were sold for anything up to 8 for a kilo, while Pine Trees Farm kilo punnets were being sold direct to consumers at Farmers Markets for up to 4 a kilo punnet.
â— Freshly picked Pine Trees Farms picks all its cherries within 24 hours of appearing at market. Many supermarkets store their freshly picked cherries for several weeks.
â— Storage - If you dont normally consume your cherries within a few hours of getting home, store at room temperature for four to five days in a cool place, out of direct sunlight
â— Refrigeration for longer than four to five days, store at the bottom of the fridge, but allow your cherries to warm back up to room temperature before consuming to get the best flavours
â— Freezing cherries can be frozen if you want to enjoy summer fruits in the winter. Deep red/black varieties freeze the best, especially Bradbourne Black and Gaucher.
Where to find us
Most of the 40+ Farmers Markets around the county will be selling summer fruits this month. Pine Trees Farm makes a regular appearance at Hempstead Valley, Rochester and West Malling Farmers Market. Cranbrook Conserves appears at six Farmers Markets in the county including Cranbrook, Egerton, Horsmonden, Penshurst, Rolvenden and Sissinghurst.
To contact the Kent Farmers Market Association: