Cherry trees heavy with fruit may have caught your eye recently whilst strolling in the park or along city streets. The first sign is usually the squish of fallen cherries underfoot, or the sight of discarded pips - left behind by humans and animals alike getting their foraged, sweet fix. Here are 5 ways to enjoy this flavoursome fruit whilst at its seasonal best. They don’t hang around for long!
1. Cherry and Thyme Clafloutis
A simple, classic french dessert, this is great served up at a barbecue. Mix 400g of fresh, stoned cherries with 4 tablespoons of caster sugar and leave to macerate for two hours. Heat the oven to 180C and grease a 23cm dish. Mix 100g caster sugar, 50g ground almonds, 2 tablespoons plain flour, 2 eggs, 2 egg yolks, 50ml whole milk and 200ml double cream together until smooth. Add the cherries and their juices to the batter with ½ teaspoon of fresh thyme leaves. Bake for 20-25 minutes until a knife comes out clean. Sprinkle with caster sugar and serve warm.
2. Cherry & Peach Bruschetta
Thinly slice 2 ripe peaches. Stone and half 200g cherries. Add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and the seeds of ½ a vanilla pod to the fruit and leave to macerate for 10 minutes. Whisk 200g of fresh ricotta cheese to soften it. Take half a ciabatta and cut into slices ½ inch thick, then toast. Spread the ricotta on the toast and top slices of the fruit and a little of its juices. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with flakes of sea salt.
3. Cherry and Chocolate Meringue Tower
Preheat the oven to 180C. Draw to 8inch circles on baking parchment that line two trays. Whisk 8 egg whites until stiff and slowly add 300g caster sugar. Once you can turn the bowl upside down and the whites remain stiff fold in 2 tablespoons of sifted cocoa powder. Using the back of a spoon, shape the meringue mix onto the two rounds. Place in the oven and immediately turn the heat down to 120C. Bake for 1 ½ hours, turn the oven off and leave the meringues in until the oven is cool. Stone and halve 200g cherries. Lightly whip 400ml whipping cream. Place one meringue on a serving dish and top with half the whipped cream and half the cherries. Top with the remaining meringue, cream and fruit and sprinkle with melted chocolate and chocolate shavings.
4. Cherry, Fennel, Land cress, Duck Salad
Slice a ¼ of a cantaloupe melon into thin, ribbon-like slices. Combine with 100g stoned and halved cherries and 100ml unseasoned rice vinegar. Leave to sit for 10 minutes. Whisk together 60ml olive oil with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice and a pinch of sea salt. Mix half a thinly fennel bulb with 100g land cress and 100g green frills with half the vinaigrette in a bowl. Place 1/4inch thick, round slices of a peeled grapefruit on a serving dish and sprinkle with a pinch of salt. Top with the melon and cherries and scatter the salad leaf mix on top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and add some freshly ground salt and pepper to taste. You could leave like this, or add thin slices of pan-fried duck breast on top.
5. Cherry & Blackcurrant Compote
Place 400g of stoned fresh cherries and 100g of blackcurrants in a saucepan with 100g caster sugar and 200ml of orange juice. Simmer for about 10 minutes until the fruit has softened and remove with a slotted spoon. Place the fruit in a bowl. Simmer the remaining liquid for about 20 minutes until reduced to a syrup and pour over the fruit. You can enjoy warm with creme fraiche and crumbled shortbread for dessert, or try adding to yoghurt with granola for breakfast.
See Chegworth Valley’s Organic Cherries in the shop