I have lived in my current house for over twenty years. That is quite a long time. For all of that time we have had a large cherry tree overhanging our back lawn from our neighbour’s garden. Every year it is covered in blossom. Then, sure as night follows day and eggs is eggs etc., it is laden with cherries and the Captain and I have the following conversation:
Me: Ooh look, cherries!
Capt: mm? Ah yes. You can’t eat them.
Me: Really? Are you sure?
Capt: Oh yes, they are inedible. Definitely not for eating.
Me: But the birds like them?
Capt: Yes, well, we’re not birds, are we. They are sour. You wouldn’t like them. Leave them for the birds.
It is not like me to be so compliant. But I know nothing about gardens. Actually, that is not true. I do know something now. I know that the Captain was not exactly truthful in his presentation of the facts. Not the bit about not being birds. Neither he nor I have any feathers growing anywhere and we are not keen on little bells, mirrors or worms. He was right about that. However, I have discovered that the cherry-tree-in-the-garden-bearing-loads-of-inedible-fruit-for-twenty-years is, in fact, a Wild Cherry tree that I can do a lot with. A. Lot. To say I am excited is an understatement. But then, as has been noted before, I don’t get out much.
Unfortunately, the tree actually belongs to my neighbour, and while he is very happy for me to clamber over his garden picking his totally inedible cherries from the utterly useless cherry tree, he probably draws the line to some severe pruning to enable me to reach the higher branches in future years. Consequently, most of the fruit still ends up benefiting the avian population more than me. This is possibly not a bad thing because I have been a bit busy making jam pot covers and labels for my jars. And I seem to have another infection in my face so I am a tad under the weather again which is a huge irritation. So gathering just enough for a batch of Cherry Ratafia was probably just as well.
I posted a different recipe in the comments on Amy’s blog the other day when she wrote asking for ideas in her Sweet as Cherry Pie post. I opted to try this one as I had some vanilla sugar in my cupboard. It’s going to be a long time waiting to try it!
Wild Cherry Ratafia
500g wild cherries, pricked
2 cinnamon sticks
300g vanilla sugar
Put the cherries in a large clean jar or bottle. Pour over the sugar, followed by the cinnamon and brandy. Secure lid and give a good shake to mix up the contents. Shake daily for the next week to prevent the sugar settling on the bottom. Then shake once a week for 8 – 10 weeks. Strain through a fine sieve and bottle. Leave for at least 6 months and preferably 18 months before drinking.