My girl and I are crossing the pond this week. Back to Blighty and a hop over the Channel to Paris as well. Oh my goodness, we cannot wait! We're excited to see family, friends, our little cottage by the beach and all the places and things we love and miss. But before we leave my travel companion graduates from elementary school, the build up of which school to go on to and what about her friends are done, whilst emotions of saying goodbye, moving on, and the dress are now here. So what with that and the appearance of bright, shiny cherries in the shops there is a cause to celebrate, don't you agree?
Living in British Columbia, I would say a summer highlight is the arrival of the famous Okanagan stone fruits. The area, which has grown a variety of orchard fruits since the mid 1800s has the perfect climate - hot summers and cold winters with well irrigated land - so the produce is bursting with flavour, be it cherries, apricots, plums and other stone fruits in the summer or apples and pears come winter.
I love making cordials, they take little effort and the result is always a treat. When I think of the versions found on grocery shelves (even those organically produced) all loaded up with sugars and goodness knows what else, I know which I prefer. Mine still contains sugar, albeit it in unrefined form, but on a much more conservative scale. All the same, it shouldn't be seen as every day quaffing, okay?!
Which reminds me, on my summer reading list this year is Your Body's Many Cries for Water. I'm the first to admit I don't drink as much as I should (gone are the 8 glasses of water a day theory, now we should be drinking two thirds of our body weight in ounces per day) so I'm relying on this book to kick me into action. Well that and a very large, diluted glass or two of cordial!
cherry and raspberry cordial
This is such a delicious, summery drink but when cherry season is over you can easily substitute for other fruits. Experiment away!
(makes 2 cups (500ml) cordial)
Print the recipe here
1+1/2 lb ripe cherries
6 oz raspberries
generous pinch vanilla powder
1/4 cup + of syrup (see below)
for the syrup: (makes 1 cup)
juice of 1/2 lemon (2 tbsp)
1/3 cup honey
Remove the stalks and stones from the cherries, halve them and put into a large pan together with the raspberries and vanilla powder. Add 3/4 cup filtered water and bring up to a simmer. Cook gently for 10 minutes then set aside to cool whilst letting the flavour and colour intensify. Transfer the mixture to your food processor and pulse a couple of times to break up the fruits if necessary, but do not purée. Now place in a jelly strainer set up over a large jug and leave for several hours, ideally overnight, to drip/extract as much liquid as possible (you will get around 1+3/4 cup). Don't be tempted to squeeze the bag or it may make the cordial cloudy. If you don't have a strainer, use a fine mesh sieve lined with muslin.
Meanwhile make the syrup. Put the lemon juice and honey into a medium pan, together with 1 cup filtered water. Bring to a gentle simmer for 5 minutes, stirring initially to melt the honey. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.
Once the fruits have finished dripping, stir in 1/4 cup of the syrup, adding more if you prefer it sweeter, and decant into a sterilised sealable bottle. You can keep the remaining syrup for a couple of weeks in the fridge. Btw don't throw away the remaining pulp, eat it with coconut yoghurt or ice cream, or return it to your processor, add a dash of water or syrup and make sauce.
To serve, drop a couple of ice cubes into a glass, pour in 1 part cordial to 2 or 3 parts water, or however you like it. Cordial keeps for up to 5 days in the fridge.