Contadina's Blog

Living the contadini life among the olive groves

Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries June 2, 2011

Filed under: Garden,Recipes — contadina @ 6:48 pm

A morning's cherry picking

I apologise for my back in Blighty blog-break; although, it was great to catch up with family and friends and I covered a fair amount of London and the southeast on my travels.

As ever, my travels enabled me to visit a good selection of charity shops, where I managed to get myself a rather fetching “Year in Provence” outfit and a suitably Monty Don-ish summer ensemble for Jeremy. If only we had the time to float around the garden, glass in hand, marvelling at exotic flora.

In my absence, Jeremy continued his mammoth wall-building project and we had our wombled gates fitted today. A dry-stone wall maestro is coming at the weekend to join the now finished walls to Jeremy’s new pillars and then we only need to attach the fencing to posts that are already in place.

You’ll have to wait until then for pictures though as Jeremy has forbidden photos until the job’s finished. I think all this wall building is doing to funny things to him. He was going to stop the car yesterday to pick up a random rock he took a fancy to.

Since I’ve been back I’ve been preserving like crazy. The freezer is full of peas and cherries and we’ve enough cherry jam to last the year.

Able-assistant, Gaia

The first few bunches of oregano are drying and I’ve also begun to harvest the first capers and will continue to do so every few days until they stop producing in a few months time.

Like olives, capers need curing before eating. There are a variety of methods to do this, but this is the recipe that I favour. Leave capers in water for 48-hours changing the water after the first day. Then cover with rock salt for two days, squeezing the salty-caper mix gently every now and then.

Day five, rinse and cover in white wine vinegar for two days. Place in a jar and cover with a fresh vinegar/brine mix. I keep adding to a jar until its full. Just make sure the capers are fully covered in liquid. They’ll keep for a couple of years but store in the fridge once opened.

Courgettes have also started producing prolifically so they are featuring in most meals.

Elsewhere in the garden, a few green tomatoes have appeared, so it hopefully won’t be too long before we can enjoy them, but we’re probably a month away from seeing any other vegetables, other than salad crops, appear on the table.

On the fruit-front, a variety of figs (Colombri in dialect or Processotto in Italian) should be ready in a few days. I keep giving them a quick squeeze but they are not quite soft enough yet.

While the Morello cherries are pretty much all done, we’ve a few variety of red cherries that we’re enjoying now. I’ve had a couple of able assistants; although Gaia seems to have understood the phrase cherry picking, Piglet, meanwhile, needs to hone her technique a little, as she just shuts her eyes and opens her mouth before launching at them. Sometimes she gets a cherry, other times it’s just twigs and leaves. We’ve one other variety which fruits a little later that I’ll use to put under grappa (sotto spirito). Unfortunately I only know it by its name in dialect, which is cuore delle donne (ladies hearts). It’s, not surprisingly heart-shaped, has a firm skin and is great for steeping in alcohol and cherry-flavoured grappa really helps provide a warming kick in the winter months.

Piglet's more comedic approach

No thoughts of winter now though, I’m just off out to pick some more cherries.


9 Responses to “Life Is Just A Bowl Of Cherries”

  1. irene warden Says:

    i have only 1 miniature cherry tree ,this year only 2 cherries other years they have a resting year or something?

  2. contadina Says:

    Hi Reenie,

    It could be a problem with pollination (if honeybees were scare around your way in springtime) or maybe you had a frost that caused the tree to lose all it’s flowers. If that’s the case, you should be in for a bumper crop next year.

  3. Lovely photo of Piglet mid-launch, lol……..or mid-lunch maybe?
    We had a cockerel who used his weight to stand on fruit bush branches so the hens could reach the fruit.
    I’m jealous of your bowls of cherries.
    Julie 🙂

  4. contadina Says:

    That’s lovely Julie. I think I’d pay to see that 😉

  5. Heiko Says:

    Cherry flavoured grappa, hmmm…. I might have to come down during the winter to try some. Most of our cherries are of the sour variety, exsept for Simon, the Durone which isn’t producing yet. Picked the first courgettes with flowers today and eating a lot of greens such as bietola, cicory, endive and kale. We’re still awaiting some decent rain though. It’s been threatening for days, but keeps missing us.

  6. contadina Says:

    You’d be more than welcome Heiko 🙂 Durone cherries would work well sotto spirito, and I’d definitely recommend it as it makes proper giggle juice.

  7. Mike Says:

    Just look at all those beautiful cherries, what a fine treat. I hope that our cherry trees produce like that in the future. Love the picture of the dogs…looks like they like cherries too.:) How are the new bees doing?

  8. contadina Says:

    I guess your cherries should be ready right about now or soonish Mike. Cherry season is over for us now but luckily the first lot of figs are ripe 🙂 Not so happily, the bees didn’t make it. I went to the UK in May and was thinking of placing a sugared comb in the hive to help them through the summer. I should have done it before I left, as there were no bees when I returned. It’s been really hot over here for over a month and everything is tinder-dry so there was no forage for the bees. The ones in the tree have gone to. Lesson learnt – bees need a helping hand during heatwaves.

  9. contadina Says:

    Quick bee update…they are alive! Although they haven’t made any brood comb and they’re working their way through their limited honey store, so I’ve put a feeder in the hive (a cunningly devised upturned jam jar with holes in the lid on a container covered in mesh). The syrup is currently two parts sugar to one part water as I figure they need food urgently, but I’ll change it to 1:1 next week to hopefully encourage them to make some brood comb.

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