We recently travelled to Brogdale Farm in Kent, home of the National Fruit Collection, and timed our visit to coincide with the annual Cherry Festival. I was in my element as the Collection holds an incredible 320 different varieties of cherry. We toured the many planted acres on a tractor ride and sampled numerous fat, juicy examples of fruits before buying some to bring home. I was especially amazed to discover that, according to one study, cherry juice contains more antioxidants than 23 portions of fruit and vegetables! I wonder why fresh cherry juice isn’t more widely available in the supermarkets?
One of the highlights of our Brogdale visit was an introduction and cookery demonstration by forager Lucia Stuart into using wild fruits, such as cherries, as well as edible flowers in the kitchen. She actually runs several courses from her company ‘The Wild Flower Kitchen’ and has published a book on the subject.
And so, with Lucia’s inspiration – she said ‘wild food has vitality and freshness’ - when I got home I foraged sufficient wild cherries from our local park to make some jam.
I cooked the cherries first, until softened, and then strained them through a sieve to remove the stones. I finally measured the resulting juice and added the same amount of sugar before bringing it all up to a boil for a couple of minutes. The result is a thick, dark and unctuous preserve, just perfect for a slice of toast or warm scone, but would be equally good added to a sauce for duck or game.
“Life is just a bowl of cherries
So live and laugh, aha!
Laugh and love
Live and laugh,
Laugh and love,
Live and laugh at it all!”