Friday, 17 June 2011

Preservation - Part of the Process

Because everything seems to ripen at the same time, keen foragers will soon need to familiarise themselves with various traditional (and some decidedly modern) methods of preserving fresh produce. I mentioned in my previous episode (Cherry Picking the Best) that my son likes his cherries dried or dehydrated. You can buy machines for achieving this or simply leave them in the sun on a hot day. The airing cupboard is good on dull days too.
Sun Dried Cherries - I know they don't look that nice, but the flavour is intense.
Cherries also freeze well, either with the stones in or after pitting them. I have found the best method is to initially freeze them on a baking tray. This keeps the cherries separate and loose when you finally transfer them to a bag. It also allows you to defrost a specific amount as opposed to the whole lot. This suits my daughter who has developed a taste for frozen cherries as an interesting alternative to an ice lolly on a summer’s day.
Pitted Cherries, Ready for Freezing
Of course, the best thing to do in my opinion is to eat them, either straight off the tree (after a quick rinse if needed) or to bake them into some kind of cake or pudding. My wife made us a lovely Cherry Clafoutis, which is basically a big cherry pancake. Mmmmmmm!
Cherry Clafoutis (Pancake)
Here is the recipe...

Cherry Clafoutis (a big pancake with cherries in it)
Serves 4

300g Cherries, unpitted
300ml Milk
3 Eggs
60g Caster Sugar
60g Plain Flour
Half-tsp Baking Powder
Pinch of Salt
Half-tsp Vanilla Extract
Icing Sugar for Serving

Heat the oven to 180C/Gas 4.
Remove the stalks and arrange the cherries in a single layer in a shallow, lightly buttered 22cm glass or porcelain dish.
In a food processor, combine the eggs and sugar and beat until smooth.
Add the milk, salt and vanilla extract and whiz briefly.
Sift in the flour and baking powder and blend for one minute until smooth.
Pour the mixture amongst the cherries to about 5mm depth and put it in the oven until golden brown. The mixture will rise in the oven, but will deflate somewhat when removed.
Sprinkle the hot pudding with icing sugar before serving.
This pudding looks fab and tastes lovely but don't forget to let everyone know, the cherries still have the stones in them.

Clafoutis? Pancake? Who cares what it's called? Watch out for those stones!

1 comment:

  1. I'd not thought of drying cherries! I have a bunch from my mother-in-law and that would be a great way to use them, especially in my homemade granola!

    Any chance there are more in St Denys so I can increase my supply? Now that I know I can dry them, I'm happy to have some more in the house!