Wednesday 4 July 2007

A Stocking full of Cherries

The time has come to share a top tip with you all. Unfortunately, although I'm most taken with this idea I've only just decided to try it myself so I can't guarantee its efficaciousness only its novelty.


And the tip is this - to stop cheeky blackbirds (and starlings and sparrows and probably penguins also) from eating your cherries before they're even properly ripe and you've had a chance to pick them, enclose the fruiting branches in stockings, nicely pulled up over the immature fruit. Here is an example;


What's that I hear you say? You have no stockings? I rather think you do and you'll find them bundled up in the back of the sock drawer so let's hear no more excuses (leave the fish nets, they're not as effective and you may need them sometime).

Your reward for sacrificing your leg apparel.

I'm hoping to make cherry jam with this batch, but need to research recipes as last time the jam was nearly toffee before it set, nice in cakes but not much good for toast. In the meantime another whacky idea for the detritus, Cherry Stalk Tea or Tisane.

It's best to pick cherries with the stalk attached, use scissors to avoid tearing the bark from the branches, but of course stalks in jam are no fun. As you prepare the fruit for cooking save the stalks and then dry in a warm place, your dehydrator or solar dryer until quite brittle. Store in an airtight container. To make the tea, take a big handful of stalks and add about half a litre (slightly less than a pint) of fresh water. Bring to the boil, simmer for five minutes and then allow the stems to steep for four or five hours before straining. Drink the tea cold or warm it up again, with or without sugar.

This is supposed to be very good for the kidneys and fluid elimination but it's a nice drink that makes a change from ordinary tea or the overflavoured fruit and herb concoctions available in the shops.

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