Cherries gone wrong.

It was my twin grandsons’ birthdays yesterday.  One way for us to celebrate it here is to gather in the very last of the cherry harvest.  In this topsy-turvy year, 14th June marked our first, not our last chance for us to harvest this year’s crop, helping friends in a village just down the road.

Oh, they looked good, those cherries!  The tree was weighed down with luscious ruby fruits.  Max got out a ladder for us to reach the ones way up towards the top, but even before we got to work, we could see that all was not as it seemed.  Many cherries – most cherries – were turning brown and nasty or had already grow a furry coat, even before they’d fully ripened.  As we harvested, we discarded more than we dropped into our buckets.  After we’d done all we could, we only had two small buckets’ worth.

Then we went through our haul again: quality control.  Our two buckets-worth became one.  Christine complained that she couldn’t foresee getting more than a single clafoutis out of this lot.  Normally she makes cherry jam, cherry liqueur, bottled cherries, cherry clafoutis and cherry pies till she’s sick of the sight of them.  And what was worse, those cherries didn’t even taste of much.  Engorged with water, the flavour was diluted and thin somehow.

They gave the lot to us.

This morning, I got our cherries out of the fridge to pick them over before tackling that clafoutis.  Overnight, almost half of them had gone bad.  Saint Nigel, my unfailing kitchen guide, suggested an improvement on the traditional clafoutis recipe, and I followed it.  The recipe was not a success.  The batter was solid and heavy, and complemented by wishy-washy flavourless cherries, it was not a pudding to write home about.

By the way, do you know the French for ‘it’s nothing to write home about‘?  It’s ‘Il ne casse pas trois pattes à un canard‘.  It doesn’t break the three feet of a duck.  In other words, it’s nothing extraordinary, as a three-legged duck would certainly be.

25 thoughts on “Cherries gone wrong.”

  1. oh Margaret – know the problem from my cherry trees in Lavelanet, when they were fab, the birds all eat them….so never got a clafouti, your clafouti looks very tasty….mmmmmmmm, xxxAnnA

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    1. AnnA, even the birds don’t want the cherries this year. They’re rubbish. By the way, I noticed on Meteo France that you were in the hottest place in France yesterday. Lucky you!

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    1. Look, I keep on being a prophet of doom. I’ve started so I’ll finish. I was not exaggerating. The cherries are generally dreadful, even the ones on sale. We have some in our now-let-out garden too, which our tenant is happy for me to pick. And we’re not going to bother. Sorry. But on a better note, we’re promised sun again tomorrow

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      1. Agreed. Ours being still in a state of unreadiness, we scoured St Girons’ market today looking for cherries good enough to covet. Cherries there were by the bucketful, but none cried ‘buy me!!’. I’m holding out no great hopes for ours, given that even the birds aren’t eyeing them up so far …

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      2. It’s the ultimate downer, isn’t it? We spend most years wondering how to keep the birds off, and now they aren’t bothering to scoff the lot, we don’t want to either 😦

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    1. Well, I may have to send you some. Normally they aren’t all that good here, compared with those in England. Too much sun, not enough rain. That’s never going to be the problem this year. *sigh*

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  2. oh yes Margaret, it’s very hot here, luckily I live near the pine wood and a big park with old trees……..and the cherries here to buy are real good – sorry for you all there, sending you a lot of sunbeams….xxAnnA

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  3. Quelle dommage:-( Or in Russian Vot Zhaal! Thats a reminder of Malcolm’s Russian teaching skills! As for the serious cerise affair is it a weather or disease problem and preventable in future? I can imagine the disappointment of the clapped-out clafoutis!

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  4. All the magazines featured cherry recipes this month and I was lining them up to have a cherry fest. Sadly none have appeared yet (apart from some anaemic looking Spanish ones that I refused to buy). Learning a harsh lesson form the rhubarb this year I’m going to grab English strawberries as soon as I see them. It just doesn’t seem the season for soft fruit does it?

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    1. Well, strawberries have been pretty good here, though I find it hard to get used to French prices – 7 euros for 2 small punnets. So they remain a very special treat indeed. My own are only just beginning, which is late indeed here in France.

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    1. Tell your friend not to hold her breath. They DO look good here – until youstart inspecting. Tell her to catch them the second they seem ripe enough, and to give you half of them for your unsolicited advice! Recipe? Dunno. Simply not giving it my full attention I guess. I don’t know how it is for you, but think my cooking knows when my mind isn’t fully on the job. In all honesty, I can take clafoutis or leave it. Ssssh. Don’t tell the French.

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      1. It would be a bit of a faff. Cut away all the grotty bits etc. and you’re not left with much. The flavour is far from intense. Well, to be fair, yours might be brilliant. You’ll just have to see. When do you arrive?

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      2. Ha ha, an excellent idea on the cherry bargaining front, and I admit that I haven’t yet got round to making clafoutis. It looks delicious but I am wondering if it is something that looks better than it tastes.

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      3. Do try clafoutis – though maybe not with cherries … this may be heresy but to my mind the very best clafoutis are made with other fruits that can stand their ground against the sweet silkiness of the egg and cream: apricots, for example, or nectarines. Or rhubarb. Or raspberries. It won’t look as pretty as the fruit will bleed into the custard, but it’ll taste a shed load better! To make something out of cooked cherries – even good ones – needs a bit more love and attention that they get inside a custard 🙂

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      4. OK, I’ll give it a go. It happens that last Sunday on our walk, someone else brought along a cherry clafoutis. Whisper it softly now, but even though I didn’t rate mine, I thought it was better than hers.

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      5. There you are Kath. Just after your comment, in comes one from my friend Kalba, who lives about 40 miles from here. If Kalba gives you cooking advice, trust me, you can take it: she’s good!

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