My friend Domenic Rampone gave me a tour of the Dendy cherry operation last week and to say I was impressed is an understatement.
Christine Dendy runs the show there and this year has brought Domenic on board to help with local sales. This is just the beginning of cherry season and the place was humming with activity with trucks trailers and tractors coming and going and a packing facility running at full capacity. What a neat and tidy operation where even the orchard, of which there are almost 100 acres of beautiful healthy cherry trees, has been mowed beneath the trees which makes it easier for the pickers.
Picking begins early in the day during these hot days and usually wraps up before noon. This early start is to avoid picking the fruit after it softens up. The cherries are kept in little buckets rather than put into large bins to avoid bruising and covered with a nice insulated reflective blanket to keep them cool. They are brought into the packing facility in a steady stream, never staying in the heat after picking for more than a few minutes. Then comes the cool part; they are sorted and graded while constantly floating in ice cold water (hydro-cooled) then immediately packed into special boxes that maintains the same atmospheric pressure as the orchard.
The cherries are sorted into two grades, domestic and export. The domestic grade cherries are just as nice as the export grade however the latter have consistent large sizing all done by a laser grader. As I was chatting with Dom and taking notes he pointed over to a 60 foot semi refer trailer and told me the cherries on that trailer will be in Taiwan the next day; amazing!
When you come to the farm to buy cherries by the pound the same due diligence is performed to make sure you go home with the absolute best fruit available on the market. There are tasting dishes set out with the varietal names on them and Dom insists you try them before buying after which he takes the chosen gems out of the cooler and into your hands. There are always two or three varieties to choose from. On the day I was there the three varieties being sold were “Lapin” which is the improved version of the old King of Cherries the “Bing”, “Rajah” which is similar I found to the “Royal Anne” of old and “Sylvia” which is very tasty with good colour and quite uniform in size. Sooner than later will come Regina, Sweetheart, “Lapeyre”, “Stirling”, “Staccato” and “Sentinal”; all of these varieties can be found described on the website HYPERLINK “http://www.dendy.ca” www.dendy.ca
Christine Dendy was born a Pooley and it was her family who started the business in 1903 so there is lots of history there. Speaking of which there is a Pooley Road a Rampone Road and a Burnett Street how fitting is that!
To find the Dendy Cherry farm fresh retail outlet head out KLO road and turn right at the McCulloch Station Pub and halfway up the hill turn left on Pooley road then follow it down to the corner where you will see the Dendy sign.Yum Yum Yum!