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Coating cherries with chocolate

Coating cherries with chocolate

Cherries dipped in chocolate are a wonderful way to impress your dinner guests or give as a present to someone: they are simply delicious. To make these pretty dainties you will need: large, dark cherries with the stalks intact, washed and dried. I used the variety Hertford, home grown of course. This is a richly flavoured cherry, large and meaty with plenty of flesh making it ideally suited for this purpose. Kordia would be another good cherry to try.

The other ingredient is dark chocolate, melted in a small basin over a saucepan of hot water. A 200 gms bar will yield sufficient for well over 40 chocolate coated cherries. In my experience ‘cooking’ chocolate does not work, you need the best eating quality.

To successfully coat the cherries, you must devise a means of suspending each cherry by its stalk whilst the chocolate sets. I used my oval plastic hanger with pegs that usually holds socks, etc., on washday! Perhaps, a taunt string stretched between kitchen unit handles might work or a wire coat hanger and clothes pegs. But before you begin, remember to lay some greaseproof paper underneath to catch any drips.

The next step is to suspend the cherries, that is, attach them to the clothes pegs, then partially immerse each cherry, one by one, in the liquid chocolate by lifting the bowl of liquid chocolate up to the fruit and allow them to set. When they are ready, take great care dismantling them from their drying device and unpegging the cherries. Finally store in a box, or display and enjoy them! They will keep well in the fridge and are best served straight from the fridge.

Christine Baggaley

Photograph kindly supplied by Christine and Adrian Baggaley

Kordia cherry

Kordia cherry

Gorgeous English home grown cherries are on sale in shops and farmers’ outlets in Kent, yet my local Kent supermarket is selling Spanish cherries. I may just have been unlucky, but with the enormous effort and investment in English cherry orchards these days, I could not help wonder why a large major supermarket did not seem to have home grown cherries prominently on sale. The cherry season in the UK begins with imported fruit, but now that the English crop is ready and picking has been going on for the past two weeks or so, surely English cherries should be widely available, albeit at a price?

That morning, I visited a farm less than twenty miles away where the cherry harvest was in full swing on the most up-to-the-mark plantations, producing almost unimaginable crops – at best, from six to eight tons a hectare of top quality fruit. Last year the English cherry industry grew 2,000 tons of cherries. The crop will probably be higher this year and more new cherry orchards have gone in. These modern fruit farms are massive enterprises, immensely impressive and where cherry production, like that of strawberries and raspberries, has undergone a revolution over the past few decades.

Gone are the tall cherry trees that needed sixty run ladders to reach the top and pick them. Instead, dwarfed trees, about ten feet high, are grown under covered tunnels, protected from bad weather and birds to ensure bountiful harvests of pristine fruit. This revival in the English cherry orchard’s fortunes is also due to new cherry varieties, which tend to be larger and more succulent than many of the old sorts. Although cherry aficionados will tell you that there are real treats to be found among the old varieties, by and large the new ones are much more generous in size and many also taste excellent.

Kordia, a large, true black cherry with a rich, glorious flavour, is widely planted in commercial orchards and one that should be on sale and recognised, now that supermarkets are naming the cherries in a punnet. Penny is a beautiful, very large dark red cherry also being harvested around this time and, almost uniquely in the portfolia of recommended modern cherries, bred in England. Summer Sun is another wonderful, large, dark red cherry. You will also find on sale Regina, a nearly black cherry, which, like all these varieties, is handsome and fleshy. Sweetheart is the last of all to ripen and another good, deep red cherry.

Over the season Stella and Lapins may appear in markets. These are varieties popular also with gardeners because they are self fertile, but most cherries require another variety to pollinate them to produce a good crop of fruit. The complexities of cherry pollination are a taxing issue for growers, only satisfied by planting a range of varieties. Yet this is of great benefit to consumers, because it means we have a wide spectrum of cherries potentially available to us.

Cherries are one of the most glorious fruits and with the English cherry industry putting increasing amounts onto the market in response to the demand for more home grown fruit in general, we need to make sure they are reaching us. It seems an open question as to how widely available home-grown cherries may be, but it would be interesting to find out.

Tell us what you discover on sale. Let us know if these wonderful cherries are getting out to customers all over the UK. Do you see Kent cherries and any other English cherries on sale, for example, in Leeds or Liverpool, Exeter or Scotland? In your area there may still be orchards of old varieties – it would be fascinating to know about them too.

Joan Morgan

Sweetheart cherries

Sweetheart cherries

Glen Doll raspberry

Glen Doll raspberry

I have a fairly new raspberry patch with six varieties, chosen for succession and other virtues. The canes were planted about 18 months ago and this is the first real season of full picking. I garden in South Lincolnshire, near Spalding, on Fenland silt.

One of the six varieties is Glen Doll. I was interested to read the Royal Horticultural Society report, which is very damning of this variety. It reads: ‘The trial panel found little to recommend this cultivar to the amateur gardener. Yield was consistently poor and other cultivars in this category were far superior’. However, for me, Glen Doll has been the star of the show. It began early, as early as Glen Moy and Malling Minerva, has been heavy yielding and is still continuing to yield very well.

I just wanted to report the fact that my experience has been very different from the RHS Trial Panel.

Janet Galpin

 

Rosy apple aphid: the most common apple aphid

Rosy apple aphid: the most common apple aphid

I have an aphid attack on a young apple tree (since late May I think). Lots of young leaves curling at leading end of branches and further down large leaves gaining brown blotches. There appear to be a mix of aphids and eggs(?) on leaves: colour varies from light brown to black and there are one or two spots of orange.

What can I do about it? I get the sense I should remove and burn any leaf that’s effected. Is that right? Any other tips?

Joseph Little

Our thanks to Adrian Baggaley for all the photographs. See below for Adrian’s comment.

Rosy apple aphid infected shoot: mid-summer 2014

Rosy apple aphid infected shoot: mid-summer 2014

Earwig 'hotel' to encourage earwig predators

Earwig ‘hotel’ to encourage earwig predators

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A young almond fruit in the centre, on the branch above the oleander bush

A young almond fruit, just visible in the centre, on the branch above the oleander bush

In March we were on a tour of the ancient Greek sites of Western Turkey and looking forward to seeing Ephesus, Troy, Pergamon and Assos. Aristotle was living there when he got the call from Philip of Macedon to tutor his son Alexander. It started in the unpromising, but comfortable, surroundings of a concrete block of a hotel at Kusadasi, one of the fishing villages that has become a package tour resort.

It was a wonderful time of year with the peach orchards a froth of candy floss pink blossom, early apricot flowers and many pale lilac paulownias.

The walk to the supermarket to buy a couple of bottles of local wine (highly recommended) was down a winding road and on a bend in the distance I could see the branches of a large shrub in full leaf swaying around. It looked like an oleander but then I could see another shrub behind and three boys scampering around it. I stopped and laughed as they were eating the green oval fruits they were picking; they promptly handed a few to me to try.

The fruits were young almonds and I had no idea that they are considered a delicacy. The boys, having stripped the bush of all but the fruits at the top moved on: in the picture above, one whole young almond fruit is just visible on the branch behind and above the oleander bush.

When I tried them, the green flesh, soft shell and softer nut were pleasantly crunchy and refreshing. Then at the supermarket the first thing in the greengrocery at the entrance was a basket of young almond fruits, so they are clearly a popular snack.

This is an area rich in fruit and nuts and also dried fruits, which are often stuffed with whole nuts and on sale everywhere. One popular sort was a kind of coarse fig paste with nuts, cocoanut flakes or dried fruit.

On returning home a foraging friend told me he had enjoyed some young almonds from street trees in London. I have a recollection that ornamental almonds have fruits that are not good to eat. Does anyone have more information on this?

Tom La Dell

Traditional Kent Cherry Orchard

Traditional Kent Cherry Orchard

I have been asked by a book researcher which are the best traditional orchards that are open to the public. If you have any suggestions, please forward them to me at steve@ptes.org

Steve Oram

Photograph kindly supplied by Pippa Palmar

Blenheim Orange

Blenheim Orange

I live in Whittington, a village near Lichfield in Staffordshire. We have run an Apple Day Market for the last 3 years on the 3rd Saturday in October. This has proved very popular and we have now planted a Community Orchard and purchased juicing kit.
This year we would like to find an Apple ID expert to come an offer the opportunity for local people to bring varieties from their gardens for identification. We may be able to pay a modest fee. Is there anyone on this forum who might be willing to do this – or who can provide a name and contact details of someone else who might. If so please reply to this or contact me via mike@wfeg.org.uk
Many thanks.

Mike Kinghan

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