Cherries and Summer are interchangeable words. They remind us that Christmas is on the way and that there are plenty of long, hot, lazy days ahead to enjoy these sweet, juicy treats. I have fond memories of Summer 2010 in France, buying a kilo of cherries from the front door of a local and heading back to camp to enjoy them with a nice gooey cheese and baguette. I also experienced a strange homesick sensation, eating cherries in summer but in the middle of the year rather than at Christmas. This year I’m at the right end of the planet and all the stars have realigned.
After a few more morning teas, it was time to get serious with the remainder. With lots of Christmas ham, turkey and perhaps even duck coming up, I decided to make a Spicy Cherry Sauce to serve cold alongside the cold meat. The Asian flavours give a modern twist and the spiciness helps to cut through any fattiness in the meat. Also nice with a strong cheddar, salad leaves and fresh, crusty bread.
- 500g cherries, stoned and halved
- 1 tbsp cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 7cm fresh ginger, finely grated
- 1/2 tsp crushed chilli paste*
- 1 cinnamon stick, 5 coriander seeds lightly crushed, 1 star anise
- 1/2 tbsp extra vinegar
- Place cherries, 1st lot of vinegar, sugar, ginger and chilli in a medium saucepan with 2 tablespoons of water.
- Put spices in a piece of muslin, calico or clean stocking and tie off with kitchen string. Place spices in saucepan with cherries.
- Put saucepan on low heat (no lid) and gently warm to allow cherry juices to start running.
- Place lid on saucepan and gently simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and adding a dribble of water if the mixture starts to stick or dry out.
- Add extra 1/2 tsp of vinegar in last 5 minutes of cooking.
- After 40 – 45 minutes, take cherries from heat and allow to cool slightly. Mixture should be slightly syrupy with cherries only slightly cooked down. Remove spices and discard.
- If serving that day, place in covered bowl in fridge to chill.
- If serving at a later date, place sauce into sterilised jar whilst sauce is still hot, seal and allow to cool before placing jar in fridge.
– *Gourmet Garden or John West style chopped chillis are fine for this. No need for fresh chillis if you don’t have any.
– The ginger makes this sauce quite spicy so you may wish to cut this back.
– Wear gloves when you are pitting the cherries otherwise your hands will be stained with purple juice for days.