If you didn’t get the idea from my Raspberry Whirl & Disaronno No Churn Ice Cream post, I have a bit of a tendency towards stewing down fruits for purposes other than your good ol’ fashion jam stash for winter. There are far too many rewards that you can enjoy that much quicker than preserves for cold mornings when all you want is toast and a cup of tea, and summer is the time for them.
There’s also a great little fruit and vegetable market stall near where I work. For a short time my best friend of all time worked in the same office as me, and we would take turns on our lunchtime walks (in between general chats, plotting world domination strategy, and having a good gossip) to buy each other some incredibly good value, bulk fresh produce.
Back at work out of lockdown and missing the place, I decided to risk a social distancing experiment and wander back that way. Well, not everyone near where I work knows what two metres looks like, but it was largely quiet and, having judiciously dodged a few apparently oblivious individuals, I made it there and back without worrying that the whole venture in pursuit of fresh, good food had been a massive mistake.
It didn’t hurt that I had a massive bag full with fresh cherries with me, either.
(Amazing what things like that can do for your nerves after a few months of lockdown.)
I couldn’t resist them on sight. But the question was, what to do with them all? With the best will (and appetite) in the world and a love of cherries, not even I could eat all of that in one hit, and the problem with cherries on the brink of a heatwave is that they’re not known for their longevity.
But! All was not lost. For I knew I had a day off the next day and a cold bottle of prosecco in the fridge.
Surely these two loves of mine (and a bit of free time in the sun) could be paired up?
Now, I don’t usually have a massive sweet tooth. And some of you may think that adulterating a prosecco is criminal but ever since I tried it with my home made annual batch of blackberry whiskey over ice during I’ve had to disagree. So the idea of sharp, tangy cherries working with dry, crisp, cold prosecco on a hot day appealed….well let’s just say quite a lot. And when you’re buying produce in bulk, it’s inevitable that some will be closer to getting past it’s very best than others.
(Obviously cherries aren’t the cheapest, so if you have a punnet of perfectly juicy ripe fruit then for the love of everything sane just eat them (!) – but this was also a way to use those who were closest pushing the boundaries of over-ripe, so if you have any which have been a bit overlooked then this is a way to make the most of the flavour when the texture isn’t as good as when they’re at their prime.)
So, the next morning, after enjoying some fresh cherries for breakfast with some of My Lockdown, Best Friend Show Down Granola and some yoghurt, I set about putting some of this lovely fruit to work to make a reduction to work with some lovely bubbles later on that sunny day off.
350 cherries, ripe or a little past their very best, stones left in and stalks removed
Splash of water
Tablespoon runny honey (feel free to try lavender or vanilla-infused if you fancy or if that’s all you have)
Ice, cubes or crushed
Put the cherries and water in a stainless steel pan (and don’t wear white, whatever you do).
Stew gently over a low-medium heat for about ten minutes, stirring regularly.
Gently squash with a potato masher or muddle with a rolling pin to encourage the skins to pop and everything to get even friendlier. Stew for a further few minutes.
Strain through a sieve, pushing some of the pulp out with the juice but losing the stones and skins of the fruit.
Add the honey to the juice, stir to dissolve while still warm, return to a low heat and reduce for another few minutes and allow to cool thoroughly.
When ready, either crush some ice or serve cubes into a glass and pour over the mixture, top with prosecco, get out in the sunshine and enjoy. Maybe eat some cherries too.
It’s pretty simple but it really is a zingy, sharp, refreshing mix and whilst it’s not the sweetest, you could add a little sugar if you wanted – personally I wanted the sharpness and you’ll be surprised how ‘jammy’ the remnants of the stewed juice will be in the saucepan when you first strain it out. You could also tweak it by adding some thyme sprigs, lavender flowers or edible flowers frozen in ice just for…well for the hell of it really!
Enjoy the sun everyone x