Central Otago company trialling frozen cherries

The Alexandra company also juices cherries. Photo: Supplied / Eden Orchards
The Alexandra company also juices cherries. Photo: Supplied / Eden Orchards
A Central Otago juice company is investigating yet another way of reducing cherry waste - by freezing them.

Eden Orchards in Alexandra already takes processing-grade cherries from around the region and juices them.

General manager Cameron Bignell said a report prepared for Central Otago District Council about fruit loss sparked a group of growers to come up with other solutions.

“About 2000 tonnes of processing-grade cherries are produced each season,” he said.

“At the moment, we take about 800 tonnes of those for juicing, so we want to come up with another solution for the rest; that’s how the freezing trial came about."

The idea has got backing from the Ministry of Primary Industries’ Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures Fund, which has given $40,000 towards the project.

The pitted cherries are frozen quickly to preserve the fruit's colour and taste. Photo: Supplied ...
The pitted cherries are frozen quickly to preserve the fruit's colour and taste. Photo: Supplied / Eden Orchards
“The trial is going pretty well,” Bignell said.

“There’s a bit to it; we have a team that takes the stem off every cherry manually, then they go through a de-stoning machine which takes the pip out without damaging the look and structure of the cherry.

“Then they are frozen quickly to keep the colour and the taste of the fruit.”

Bignell was pleased with the process.

"We're pretty happy with the taste and quality that we've got at the moment. It's all about testing how the different varieties go."

If successful, Eden Orchards will reach out to industry partners to launch commercial trials next season.

"Frozen cherries could be used for lots of things, in smoothies, baking, you could just eat them as they are or put them on ice cream," Bignell said.

 

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