Life's a bowl of cherries

Updated: 2012-04-15 09:33

By Pauline D. Loh (China Daily)

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Life's a bowl of cherries

Nothing spells spring like the sight of cherry trees bending over with fruit. Pauline D. Loh enjoys her garden harvest.

While the weather forecasts still warn of temperatures below 10 C in Beijing, we are enjoying noon temperatures of the late 20s in Kunming. This year, the drought continues, but nothing can stop spring in the city that has adopted its name. As we drove from the airport, the roadside azaleas were blazing with color, and the magnolias were already budding. We had already missed the showy blooms of the plums, peaches and pears and the canola fields were already green with seed heads.

But fairy irises waved greetings as we unlocked the gate and stepped into our garden, grown wild after half a year of neglect. The lavender had grown another feet and had spread out across our little cobbled path. But it was the cherry trees that took our breath away.

Both trees were loaded with round, ripe fruit and a flock of birds flew as we approached, annoyed at us for having interrupted their feasting.

This has been an exceptional year, and I reckon that the drought had stimulated the unusually bountiful harvest.

One week later, the delighted spouse had harvested about 4 kg of fruit from each tree and all our neighbors had gotten heavy baskets of fruits to enjoy.

Still, the fruits were hanging low, ripening more and more each day. There was nothing else I could do. I decided it was time to make jam.

The announcement prompted the spouse to bring out the stepladder and reach for the fruits from the top branches, which were the most exposed to sun and redder than ever. His precarious mission accomplished, we had another couple of kilos of fruit.

Our cherries are the local cherries, which are smaller than the imported varieties and a deep orange red. Their stones pop out easily and are a breeze to prepare. After washing and stoning the cherries, I still had two huge bowls of fruit, with puddles of juice at the bottom of each.

Jam is actually easy to make, and there are only a few ingredients - I used only three, in fact.

My rosemary bushes had more than survived the drought and seemed to have thrived, if anything. I decided a few sprigs might just pep up the cherry jam, which is sweet but not exactly aromatic.

The experiment worked a treat, and this is going to go into my recipe repertoire as a classic.

For those of you who do not have cherry trees, turn your envy into creativity. Buy fruit that is in season, and use them for jam. The strawberries, for example, will make fantastic jam.

If you have queries on either ingredient or technique, feel free to email me at paulined@chinadaily.com.cn.

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