May 22, 2018
You might have noticed that the cherries on trees around Ljubljana are about to ripen any time now, while the fruit has also been available for almost two weeks at local markets.
Birds feasting on cherries in Ljubljana
Ljubljana marketplace last Saturday (Briške means from Goriška Brda)
The current rainy weather is certainly not good for picking cherries, and cherries picked after rain are prone to rotting and sometimes don't even last a whole day. To prolong their life cherries also need to be picked together with the stem, which can be quite a tiring task for the cherry picker and his or her fingers.
In addition to these difficulties, the branches of cherry trees are unusually brittle, which led to many accidents during the cherry-picking season in the past, although trees in orchards have lately been cultivated to grow and bear cherries at much lower levels, thus allowing most of the picking to be done safely from the ground.
As cherries are not the easiest fruit to grow, pick nor store, this is reflected in their price, currently set at about 5 EUR per kilo if the cherries originate from Goriška Brda, the local cherry-growing region that’s also very well known for its wine.
If you are buying cherries from abroad, get ready to ingest all the chemicals that allowed them to survive the trip to Slovenia and several days on the shelves after that. Intensive agricultural production, which involves chemical treatment of cherries throughout their growth, can in fact produce pleasantly flavoured, long-lasting and very affordable cherries, the origin of which is usually not advertised very loudly. Sometimes these even come from faraway places such as Calabria, a region in Italy heavily polluted by the lucrative business of toxic waste (mis-)management.
Left: “crisp cherries” of unknown origin. Right: cherries from Goriška Brda
The cherry season is sometimes referred to as the seven cherry weeks, since the orchards are organised by different sorts of cherries ripening at different times throughout the season, which is believed to last for seven weeks, usually from the second half of May, and this can in some cases reach into the beginning of July.
The peak season is expected in the second week of June, when a cherry festival takes place in Goriška Brda. This year the festival will take place on the 9th and 10th of June in Dobrovo and Šmartno. Click here for details.
For anyone interested in stuffing themselves with the freshest produce the best option remains a cherry picking trip to the orchards of Vipava Valley, where a sensible person would also make sure to see the other delights on offer, such as the views and justly famous vinyards.