As a child, my relationship with cherries was based on my picking out the glacé cherries from a bowl of vanilla ice cream and tinned fruit cocktail. It was a Sunday dessert staple when my mum hadn’t made anything from scratch.
Those slightly torn luminescent red globes of saccharin sweetness put me off cherries in any form. And ice cream too. Vanilla ice cream specifically which was the only variety eaten in my family.
My aversion to cherries has continued throughout my life. I have no idea why this is. My palate developed as I grew up and foods I’ve hated as a child have now become adult favourites – cauliflower being one of the most notable.
This summer, I reached for a punnet of cherries in a market just for their sheer attraction. Their dark red sheen made them look juicy and when I got them home, I wasn’t disappointed. Juicy and just the right balance of sweet and tartness. Happily, I’m now a convert and have spent the summer eating handfuls of them.
This chutney recipe came about because I had some cheese in the fridge and nothing to eat it with. I love chutney and I’m always looking for different ingredients to experiment with. The chutney reflects the flavour of the cherries – just the right balance of sweet and savoury. The cherries retain much of their shape and firmness which I like. It doesn’t turn into a mush.
100g cherries, pitted
50g cider vinegar
50g finely chopped red onion
3 tbsp brown sugar
5cm piece of cinnamon or ½ tsp cinnamon powder
2 star anise
Place all of the ingredients in a pan and heat over a medium flame until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 – 40 minutes until the mixture begins to thicken.
Remove the cinnamon stick and star anise. The chutney will keep for about a week in the fridge.