Cherry seasonJune 3, 2010
I picked my first cherry’s of the season today. I packed the baby in her stroller and we went bumping down the tractor path following Auriane swinging her basket and Olivia way ahead on her bike. We passed the poppies and honeysuckle its sweet fragrance making me hungrier as I neared the trees. The two old ladies were waiting at the end of the lane, their rich black cherries dripping from their branches. It’s my favorite time of year. Maybe because I met Raphael in May and on our second ‘date’ he brought me a Tupperware full of fresh picked cherries (his mom had picked them). Which I devoured on the car ride from the airport to the hotel. They were the best cherries I had ever tasted.
May and June is cherry season in the south of France. May starts off with trees covered in white blossoms dusted pink. We have many trees on the property so that the season becomes a parade of pink and white flowers with a different variety of cherry popping out every few weeks.
Cherry season means its time for the provincial cake, Clafoutis. Basically a simple egg batter with a thick top layer of cherries dripping juice as it cooks. The blackest cherries are best for a Clafoutis, but they are also the best to eat. I layered them in the baking dish, mixed the batter, poured it over then put it in the over. It’s my mother-in-law’s recipe and we were both hovering over the oven for it to finish. The problem was we had a group of French tourists arrive. Over 50 of them! And we had to man the bar in the wine shop. We forgot about the Clafoutis! My first Clafoutis came out slightly burnt.
My mother-in-law also taught me how to make cherry preserves. Making preserves is not such a big deal. You put the fruit in a pot, pour in the correct amount of sugar and let it simmer for a long time until the fruit becomes liquid. With cherries, however, you have the problem of seeds. As the fruit liquefies, the seeds rise to the top of the pot. I stood in front of the stove for over an hour, or so it seemed, removing cherry pits from the preserves with a fork. But in the end, I suppose it’s worth it each time I spread the sweet jam onto a piece of toasted baguette.
Obviously I wrote this a year ago when I still had a baby in a stroller. Funny I’m about to have another baby in a stroller. This year, the cherry’s are excellent but unfortunately we don’t have any on our trees. Over one night a few weeks ago, they all disappeared. This is the second time that our cherry’s have been hijacked. Some, I’m sure, are eater by birds. However, the trees are bare even at the very top and they’re rather large given their age. One must know where they are as they are hidden in the middle of a couple of vineyards at the end of a long path. The problem is that they are not far from a small road. It’s disappointing to not be able to take the girls to pick cherry’s this year. I’ve been buying them regularly because they are still the best I’ve ever tasted but they are not cheap. Thus no extra buying for other goodies. We have no reserve for cherry clafoutis or preserves. Our plan is to buy some more trees and plant them closer to the house. In fact, we hope to do an orchard of fruit trees on the small field in front of the house. So far, we have two apricot trees.
Cherry clafoutis recipe
You will need one round pie pan buttered. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees fahrenheit.
21 oz or 2 1/2 cups very ripe cherry’s (Really you need enough to fully cover the top of the batter. ) (It’s your choice as to whether you want to de-seed them.)
1 1/2 oz butter plus a little more to spread on the baking pan
7 oz milk
3/4 cup flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 pinch of salt
Rinse cherry’s. Melt the butter in a small pan. Mix flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Add vanilla and eggs one by one mixing continuously. Next, slowly add the milk while mixing. Add melted butter. Pour the mixture into the pie pan then add the cherry’s to the top spreading evenly.
Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees then lower the temperature to 350 and cook another 20 minutes. Dust finished cake with powdered sugar and serve at room temperature or chilled.