Cherries and Summer
Posted on 04 January 2022
In Australia there are a few things synonymous with summer
I'm thinking Sun, sand , surf... but also Mangoes, BBQ's and of course Cherries. It's the fruit of the season and when they hit the supermarkets, you know Christmas is almost here.
Some very dear friends of mine have a farm just north of Canberra. They have a few dozen Cherry trees and recently we were lucky to spend the day with them, helping to pick their Cherries.
Did you know Cherries have been around since the stone age, and they were part of the ration packs given to Roman Soldiers. This wonderful fruit made its way to Australia in the late 1800's, and we have been enjoying them ever since.
Now I don't know if you've noticed, but there has been a lot of rain around over the past few weeks, and sadly it has affected this years crop, but there was still plenty of gorgeous plump goodness on those trees. We had the most enjoyable afternoon out in the cherry orchard picking the fruit. It was an overcast but warm and muggy day, with a warm breeze which quickened as the day went on. In the distance we could hear thunder and the clouds were getting heavier, we picked for a few hours and then the rain started. As we walked back across the paddocks towards the house, I looked around and thought... I could be in one of those Dorathea Mckellar poems. The grass was long and dry, the light had this amazing golden hue, thunder continued to crack in the distance and yet the air was still quite warm. The gums looked majestic in the low light and yep - I was having a full on Aussie experience. How lovely it was to be on the farm, only a few Kilometres from the Nation's Capital, but it was like I was in another world.
A few facts about Cherries
Cherries provide a good source of Vitamin C and a source of potassium and fibre. They are a guilt-free indulgence with only 250 kilojoules (60 calories) per 100 grams, no fat or cholesterol - Thank goodness, because I certainly had a belly full whilst we were picking them. Cherries could be a true 'super fruit'; studies suggest phytonutrients found in cherries may have the ability to reduce the risk of heart disease, diabetes and even alleviate gout and arthritis pain. Plus they are full of antioxidants, which help to neutralise the effects of free radicals which cause skin ageing. So here's to the amazing Cherry... go ahead and eat plenty, their low calorie goodness is healthy for you and could make you look younger - I'm in! Oh and did I mention - they taste great too!
Back in the homestead...
Shortly after, a huge electrical storm hit, and our dinner preparation was hampered by a black out. Luckily there was a gas stove, (I thought... Pro tip - if you live on a farm, make sure you have a gas stove, blackouts happen from time to time...) so we lit candles and prepared dinner via candle light, and ate more cherries. The house looked magical with all those candles burning. We sat on the back verandah and watched the lightening for hours, the thunder still rolling around in the distance. We drank local wine, ate local produce, and had more cherries, all by candle light. Such a lovely way to spend time with our dearest friends.
So what do you do with your cherries? Well I like to serve them straight up in a bowl. Have them on the table for all to enjoy. Click here for our range of Serving bowls. They're a great healthy snack. And if you mix them with blue berries and strawberries, the colour combination is brilliant.
If you like the bamboo bowl in the picture, click here to buy one. They come in five great colours.
If you love to cook then here's a couple of favourite recipes you might like to try...
Elizabeth's Black Forest Mini Pavs...
Ok I think she got this recipe from Coles, but Elizabeth made these for our annual Christmas get together last year - and Wow! They were sensational. Here's how to make them.
Makes 6 Prep Time 20mins (+chilling & 1 hour cooling time) Cooking 1&1/4 Hours
You will Need:
6 Egg Whites
1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1 & 1/2 cups (330g) caster sugar
1 tsp cornflour
50g dark chocolate, melted, cooled slightly
300ml thickened cream
2 tbs icing sugar mixture, sifted
1 tsp almond essence
For the poached cherries
1/3 cup (75g) caster sugar
1/4 cup (60ml) cherry brandy, red wine or apple juice
1 cinnamon stick
2 whole star anise
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
1/3 cup (110g) cherry jam
1. Preheat the oven to 100 deg C. Line a large baking tray with baking paper.
2. Use an electric mixer to whisk the egg whites and cream of tartar in a clean, dry bowl until firm peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, 1 tbs at a time, whisking well after each addition. Continue whisking untilt he sugar completely dissolves. Add cornflour and whisk to combine. Pour over melted chocolate and gently fold mixture twice until just marbled. Spoon 6 equal portions of mixture onto the lined tray.
3. Bake for 1 & 1/4 hours or until pavlova are dry to the touch. Turn oven off. Leave the pavlovas in the oven with the door ajar, for 1 hour to cool completely.
4. Meanwhile, to make the poached cherries, place the cherries, sugar, brandy, wine or apple juice, cinnamon, star anise and vanilla in a medium saucepan over medium hear. Cook for 5 mins or until cherries are just heated through and begin to release their juices. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to a heat proof bowl.
5. Add the cherry jam tot he syrup in the saucepan and cook for 2-3 mins or until mixture thickens slightly. Remove from heat. Pour over the cherries in the bowl. Place in the fridge to chill.
6. Use an electric mixer to whisk the cream, icing sugar and almond essence in a bowl until soft peaks form.
7. Place the pavlovas on serving plates. Top with the cream mixture. Spoon over the poached cherries and syrup, serve immediately
Note: The cherries can be poached up to 1 day ahead of time. Store, covered in the fridge..
Easy peasy Cherry pie!
Mr Outdoor Table is the cook in our house, and he's perfected a fast and easy way to make cherry pie. And it's so yummy... Tip, if you don't own a cherry pitter, you can always hold the cherry and use a chopstick to push the little stones out. It's important to get the pits out, to save on dentist bills later! And if you like that little white bowl in the picture you can buy one here..
Prep 20 mins Cooking time 30 mins Makes two pies.
You will need:
1kg of cherries, pitted
2 x pre made pie pastry case
2 x sheets frozen shortcrust pastry (thawed)
Pinch of ground cinnamon
1 x teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup water
1 x tablespoon cornflour
1 x tablespoon demerara sugar
1 x egg, lightly beaten.
Custard or Ice Cream to serve.
1. Preheat oven to 180 degrees. Wash cherries and pit with a cherry pitter. Combine sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and two tablespoons of the water in a large pan. Cook stirring over a low heat until the sugar dissolves. Add cherries and stir gently to coat. Cover and simmer for 5 minutes, shaking the pan occasionally. Remove from heat. Combine cornflour and remaining water in a small bowl and stir into the cherries. Return to heat and cook, stirring gently for 3 to 4 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Remove from heat, cover and cool completely.
2. Remove your frozen pastry sheets from the freezer and allow to thaw, keep them covered with a damp tea towel so they don't dry out. Take your premade pastry cases and fill equally with the cherry mixture.
Using a sharp knife, cut the thawed pastry sheets into two centimeter wide strips. Lay the strips across the top of the pie to make an interlocking lattice. Press the strips into the edges of the pie. Brush top with beaten egg and sprinkle the pie with sugar.
3. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes or until golden. Cool in pan then cut and serve warm or cold. Serve with custard or ice-cream, or both :)
Pies can be frozen for up to three months so you can enjoy your cherry pie again later.