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Archive for July, 2014

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

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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

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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

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