Sunday, 15 June 2008

More cherries ... and a prickly pear

On the first real summer day this year, when it felt too hot to garden in the afternoon, we had a long, lazy lunch in the shade yesterday and spent the afternoon occasionally going out into the sun to tie up tomato plants and pinch out side shoots. Our daughter, La Jardiniera, did a lot of this as we're lucky enough to have her staying with us at the moment. Our neighbour pointed out his cherry tree - which we had noticed over the fence. Its fruit has ripened later than on other trees in the area, but it's ready now. He says it’s a wild cherry and the fruit is quite sharp compared with other cultivated varieties, but we tasted them and the flavour is good. He asked us if we wanted to pick them, so Lo Jardinièr went straight over and picked a couple of kilos to make jam with.

In the evening we made a clafoutis:

Make a batter with 250 ml milk, 100 gm sugar, 100 gm plain flour and 2 eggs. Pour the batter into a greased oven-proof tin or dish, add cherries (remove the stones if you have time) and put in the oven for about 40 minutes at 170 C. Because these cherries weren't very sweet I sprinkled the whole thing with brown sugar before putting it in the oven and this made a very nice slightly caramelised crust.

And we made seven pots of jam. We make the jam using special jam sugar (with added pectin). With this you don't need to cook the fruit for very long so you keep the fresh flavour. Usually we use slightly less weight of sugar than fruit (about 40:60), but because this fruit wasn't very sweet we used approximately equal weights of sugar and fruit.

Cherry Jam

Remove the stones from the fruit. We use the olive stoning attachment of a garlic press for this. Bring the fruit to the boil in a pan. Add the preserving sugar and bring back to the boil. Simmer for 7 minutes. Put into sterilised jars. We've found the easiest way to sterilise the jars is to put them in the oven at 120 degrees centigrade for 10 minutes or so.

We tried it this morning and the jam tastes wonderful as an accompaniment to fromage frais for breakfast, or with bread or toast, of course. The slight acidity of the fruit is good for jam.

A friend gave us a prickly pear leaf which was flowering. We kept if for a few days as a decoration, but now I've taken four of the smaller leaves from it and put them into geranium compost, hoping they will take root for transplanting to the garden. They should do well here as the plants grow wild and don't need much water once they are established.

prickly pear cuttings


Kate said...

Prickly pear grows wild here too. I must get some. I haven't ever tried it to eat so I must look out for it at the Rare Fruit meetings I go to where people bring samples of fruit from their gardens for eveyone to eat.It is a great way to try new things. EXCEPT durian!

lostlandscape said...

I'm enjoying your posts. I'm in San Diego, miles away, but our climates share much--It's amazing how many of your plants look so familiar. Good luck with the prickly pears. Once they get going maybe you'll invite them to your table. There are many Mexican recipes for "nopales," and the fruits make an interesting jam...

Enjoy your sunshine!

chaiselongue said...

Kate, prickly pear fruits are a bit sweet and sickly for my taste, but quite edible. Worth a try! I like looking at them better, though.

chaiselongue said...

Lostlandscape, I think they would make good jam. I'll try it and look out for some Mexican recipes for them.