I love what the summer brings to the table as far as fruit is concerned. The highlight of my year is a cherry picking picnic at Klondyke Cherry Farm in Ceres. We usually all bring a few delicious dishes to share. It’s always a surprise to see what comes out of a friend’s picnic hamper, there is always far too much food and we swop leftovers to take home. Our own rugs and cushions and reading materials usually accompany the trip, so that after we have had our lunch and mounds of fresh, sweet, juicy cherries for dessert, we can collapse under the trees and relax, read and snooze. (Really more snooze than anything else; we are usually to full to move by that point.)
Once we have digested our lunch, we take ourselves off to the orchards to pick more cherries to take home to binge on and preserve in as many ways as we can for when the season is gone, and sadly it is a rather short season. There is nothing more delicious than a cherry eaten in season in the country that it was grown in. Cherries are an expensive fruit, because they are picked by hand, so make the most of the season.
Imported fruit is really very expensive and doesn’t taste nearly as delicious as locally grown cherries in season. That being said, I really don’t give a hoot about what the cost is for this power food. This wonderful super fruit is healthier than chocolate and a good source of melatonin, the hormone that regulates your sleep patterns. They are packed with antioxidants and vitamins and minerals. Cherries are also lower in sugar compared to most fruits, so they are guilt free as far as I’m concerned. I’m told that one cup of cherries has the same amount of potassium as a banana – that’s good news for me. Not that I don’t like bananas; it’s just that I’m in love with cherries and if they do the same job, they will be first on my list.
They are a delicate fruit, so treat them with care and only buy cherries that have bright, shiny skins with the green stalk firmly attached to the top of the fruit. Do not remove the stems as this shortens the shelf life. They will keep fresh in the fridge; only wash them when you are going to eat them.
Quick and easy Cherry Jam
- 1kg fresh cherries
- 1 star anise
- 125ml fresh lemon juice
- 1kg sugar
Firstly start by thoroughly sterilizing your glass jars and lids.
Wash the cherries and then remove the stems, slit the fruit and halve them, removing the pips.
Place the cherries into a large saucepan, add the star anise and lemon juice, then cook the cherries gently over a low heat for about 6 minutes, add the sugar and cook gently for 10 -15 minutes, pressing the fruit to release the juices.
Once the sugar has dissolved bring the heat up and boil rapidly for 5 minutes or until the jam has reached setting point. Test the jam for setting point by placing a saucer into the freezer till it is chilled. Remove from the freezer and place a spoon of jam onto the saucer and let it cool. Press the jam gently with your finger to see if it is set.
Remove the jam from the stove and spoon the hot jam into the sterilized jars and seal with sterilised lids.
Label the jam, date it and store it in a cool dark place.
© Jenny Morris 2014
This almost lasts forever. The brandy is divine and the cherries should be eaten a few at a time; they could make you very sleepy and I know that they will make you walk funny if you eat too many at once
Makes about 750 ml
- 500g morello cherries, washed
- 250g white sugar
- 600ml brandy
- 2 star anise
- 1 stick cinnamon
- 3 cloves
Sterilise 1 or 2 large preserving jars really well. Prick the cherries and layer them with the sugar in the jars, screw the lid on and leave for 3 days. Give the jars a shake 3 times a day.
After 3 days, place the brandy, star anise, cinnamon and cloves in a saucepan and heat gently. Pour the brandy and spices over the cherries.
Store the brandy in a cool, dark place for 3 months. Strain and bottle, or just serve the cherries and brandy over desserts or duck.
© Jenny Morris ‘Cooking with Jenny Morris’ 2012-2014