Cherries have long been my favourite fruit, possibly my favourite food and maybe even my favourite flavour (but don't tell chocolate!). So one of my first thoughts on planning a summer road trip to the South Island was Box of Cherries.
Unfortunately it wasn't that easy to track down a box of cherries, although we enjoyed a couple of small bags from Dunedin and Oamaru. But when we boarded the ferry to sail home without a box of cherries I was pretty disappointed. I even caught myself pouting and I almost cried before I decided that cherries weren't important enough to let their lack spoil our last day of a wonderful holiday. I let my cherry attachment go.
The next day when I got home from work, my sweetheart Al, had bought a box of cherries from a local roadstand. I was thrilled and grateful and set about eating as many as I could thinking 'he really loves me to seek out my heart's desire like this'.
The day after, when I got home from work Al had bought three more boxes of cherries, rescuing them super cheap from immanent dumping by the supermarket. 15 kilograms of cherries. That's a lot. Most of the next two days were spent processing cherries: sorting out the really good ones for eating and preserving in strawberry brandy (5 big containers), cutting off the rotten bits of all the rest and taking their stones out and cooking them up into... 10 jars of jam, 5 jars of conserve, a pot of cherry soup, two freezer bags of cherry pie filling and a tub of cherry ripple ice cream.
I got very tired, very sticky, quite grumpy (thinking 'why has Al overwhelmed me with all these cherries?') and my hands are still stained purple from the juice but oh, it will be worth it to eat cherries all winter. And Al promises me that the half dozen cherry trees at Te Horo will start fruiting next year and we will have our own cherries. I'll know exactly what to do with them too!
Black Cherry Conserve
(I made this up as a final, exhausted riff on a Joy of Cooking recipe- it's sort of a cherry marmalade- sweet and tart and tasty)
1 litre of black cherries
2 tangelos, whole
2 lemons, juiced
2 1/2 cups sugar
1 cinnamon stick
1 pkt pectin
Cut the tangelos thinly and just cover with water and simmer until very soft. Add all other ingredients and stir while it comes to a boil. Stir often at a rolling boil until set (a dollop on a cold plate doesn't drip). Remove the cinnamon stick then pack into hot clean jars.