How To Make The Most Of Fleeting Cherry Season - The Gloss Magazine

How To Make The Most Of Fleeting Cherry Season

Cherish fleeting cherry season, says Trish Deseine…

“Mais il est bien court, le temps des cerises,” (How short cherry season is. We go picking while dreaming, overflowing with dreams), sang Yves Montand, in the famous French song, urging us to make the most of happy times when they are here. An ephemeral, delicious harbinger of summer heat and storms, cherry-picking season is the perfect metaphor for the start of a love affair, and just one of many romantic and sensual musical connections the fruit enjoys. Growing up, pop music was speckled with cherry images, from Prince to Garbage, the Stones via Lana del Rey, Neil Diamond and Air. But, in Co Antrim in the 1980s, my chances of tasting the actual fruit, outside an exotic Christmas fruit basket, were pretty slim.

Now, after the smattering of truffle-priced imports which creep onto market stalls from Morocco and Spain in May, suddenly tables are heaving with cherries as the summer sun floods over them. Large red plastic scoops are set on the glossy mountains, encouraging you to dig in. It always surprises me still how cherries and grapes are fair game in France for anyone wanting to taste before they buy, not too bothered if there is no invitation from the seller before tucking in. For a short six weeks or so, from the end of May to mid-July, the varieties appear, stemming from two types of trees – sweet cherry Merisier and the more acidic Griottier, which grow mostly in L’Auvergne and Provence. The abundance always starts with the juicy bruisers, Bigarreaux – perfect for the table, tartes and clafoutis – and ends with the ancient, most soughtafter, small and tart Montmorency, better for savoury dishes and preserving. Like strawberries, they are wonderful lightly poached, with a tiny amount of sugar, just enough to help the juices escape from the fruit, and with perhaps a bay leaf, some rosemary or pepper to bring out their flavour. Served with fresh goat’s cheese or a sculptural sheep’s milk, like Brousse from Corsica, they help bridge the gap between cheese and dessert for a perfect summer lunch.

As they ripen, it is always a race between human and bird to nab the juiciest fruit. One small tribe of starlings can decimate an entire harvest in a few hours. Now that the ivy berries are long gone, blackbirds, in particular, do a lot of damage with those long golden beaks. Nowadays, with our bird population in decline, perhaps we are more indulgent about letting them feast and getting our fix at the market? Beloved French writer Colette, in her autobiographical novel, Sido, famously described the mini moral conflict between the delight in watching an “oxidised green and purple” blackbird expertly tear into the pink flesh, choosing only the ripest fruit, and enjoying the cherries herself. And perhaps even more enjoyable than the eating, is harvesting together. My fondest memory is of a first lockdown lunch (Remember? When we were still sterilising cutlery? Did that really happen?) with my boys in my “ex” country home, picking the huge, juicy cherries from a tree I had planted almost 30 years before, when we had all lived there as a family.

I’m writing this in the early morning, back fleetingly in this house to meet my first grandson who lives nearby. And looking out on the cherries ripening in a garden no longer technically belonging to me but which, since I planted it, will always somehow be “mine”, Montand’s song feels even more poignant. @TrishDeseine @trishdeseineencore

Find my CHERRY CLAFOUTIS recipe through this link.


This month’s collection of recipes for Chez Moi! At Home With Trish Deseine and Neff A Taste of Summer: Try Trish Deseine’s Joyful June Menu unabashedly rejoices in all things strawberry, veering off track only slightly to include their shinier cousins, cherries!

Trish’s Pork in the Pan with Cherries, see the recipe here.

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