So we're having a summer of festivals, sunshine, music, happiness, flowers in your hair and chilling… but don't get excited - when I'm talking about being stoned, I'm only talking about cherry stones (or pits/pips, whatever).
You might remember that the cherry trees under my custodian-ship are both Morello, bought at the beginning of the community garden when there were quite a few of us. I'm not sure how the decision was reached to buy two sour cherry trees but every year those two trees are my best producers and, ironically, I don't even like sour cherries. Neighbours were told to help themselves as the fruit ripened but it didn't happen. I returned from a few days away to find deep dark cherries on the point of spoiling with none picked.
Not being one to waste good food, I checked through my cookery books (so many recipes for sweet cherries!) and googled for more inspiration. Not fancying a cherry chutney or pickle (good with duck), I thought I might be safe with a cherry crumble from an American website. The country is renowned for its cherry pies and cobblers so what could go wrong? Salt, as it happens.
But first, time to gather the fruit in. I popped down to the garden with scissors and a trug. Having this year got wise to the fact that ants love the fruit juice and were swarming all over the fruit (unlike my experience last year), I returned home with just under a kilo of fruit and, it turned out, 4 small spiders, numerous teeny tiny caterpillars and 2 ants. As I picked, I'd discarded another kilo of fruit as it had little boreholes in it - either something had crawled in or out of those holes, best not to risk it - or had just become too overripe. With home-grown, it's always wise to check and wash, then check again. Yin/yang, there's a balance to everything with organic, pesticide-free gardening.
Back in the kitchen the cherries were weighed and picked over again - on a black surface so that I could see any bugs crawling away -
more had to be thrown, the remainder washed, dried,
stones removed, kitchen washed down (they were very juicy!)
and, finally, I was able to get on with the business of being a domestic goddess. The recipe was translated (almond flour? eh? (ground almonds) - and cups versus grams) and about half an hour later, this was ready to go into the oven
with one spare for the freezer.
One word of caution: this should have been utterly delicious; ground almond crumble over vanilla scented sweetened cherries … BUT! why oh why did the recipe call for salt? In both the crumble and, more bizarrely, in the cherry mix. Also, lemon juice and zest in with sour cherries? With hindsight, no, not good. (Unless, of course, you're a big fan of Heston Blumenthal.) I blame my obsession with following a recipe to the letter the first time I make something; next time I'll trust my judgement. Looks nice though, doesn't it?
So it's bye, bye American Pie but I'm going to see if I can rescue/start again with the second crumble and cook it with sugar and a good slosh of last year's delicious sloe vodka.
Just in case I haven't totally put you off, the recipe I used is here on the Epicurious website: Sour Cherry Crumble
It wasn't unpleasant, it's just that the hint of salt enhanced the 'sour' element of what I was eating and I was kinda trying to get away from that.
With a few amendments - if you have sour cherries to use up and want to give this a go - the crumble top would be sublime if the salt is omitted. The filling needs adjusting - leave out the salt and lemon juice, use 2 spoons of cornflour or arrowroot instead of 3 spoons of 'flour' (I did) and add a touch more sugar and vanilla - and possibly some booze. Then, I think, it would be crumble-icious.
Finally, having stripped the tree of its fruit, now is a good time for pruning.
Edited to add: If you don't have your own cherry tree and have to buy cherries in, look for cherries that still have the stalks attached. The stalks should be green, indicating that the fruit is freshly picked and therefore still full of healthy goodness.