Eden Orchards, a renown cherry juice producer in Alexandra, Central Otago is trialing a novel method to extend the local cherry season. The orchard is experimenting with individually cherries, removing stems and pits from the fruit before they are put in the freezer, a technique used globally for surplus fruit but never before in Central Otago.
The Ministry of Primary Industries Sustainable Food and Fibre Futures fund has granted $40,000 to the project, which aims to reduce fruit waste.
Eden Orchards’ general manager, Cameron Bignell, expressed that the funding has expedited the piloting of this new processing technique. The Central Otago District Council reports that annually, around 2,207 tons of cherries are discarded due to imperfections, a number expected to rise as new plantings mature.
Frozen cherries, increasingly popular in smoothies and baking, retain many health benefits of fresh cherries. However, most frozen cherries sold in New Zealand are imported.
The final stage of that work has involved bringing together commercial partners interested in collaborating on new processing options in the area.
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