Our new columnist Elisha Young, aka @elisha.eats on Instagram, celebrates cherry season with a look at all the ways you can enjoy this underrated summer fruit
People took up lots of odd hobbies during the pandemic. But while others baked banana bread or hosted Zoom quizzes, my lockdown vice was walking. At first, it was just an excuse to get out of the house for my hour of exercise, but after trudging through a lot of muddy fields, I became aware of all the free food you can forage if you know where to look. Crab apples, plums and elderflower all found their way into my lockdown bakes, and one of the easiest things to forage is cherries – which happen to be in season right now!
Cherries are often forgotten next to their summer fruit siblings – strawberries, raspberries and blueberries – but are worth sourcing for their intense fruity flavour
Cherries are often forgotten next to their summer fruit siblings – strawberries, raspberries and blueberries – but are worth sourcing for their intense fruity flavour, which can be sweet, sour or slightly almondy, depending on the variety. In the UK, the most common types are wild and sour cherries, making them the easiest to get your hands on.
It’s important to stress: if you’re foraging, never trespass on someone else’s property, and always ensure you’re 100% confident about what you’re picking and eating. For example, wild garlic and lily of the valley have very similar leaves, but while one makes an excellent risotto, the other is poisonous. The Woodland Trust (woodlandtrust.org.uk) has a great web page on foraging if you’d like to find out more.
If foraging isn’t your thing, I recommend visiting a greengrocer or market, as the produce tends to be better quality than supermarket fare – and more local. Plus, if you befriend your greengrocer, they may be able to put aside fruit or help you source something a bit more obscure.
The most obvious thing to make using cherries is a classic pie, but cherry galette is a rustic (read: low effort) alternative. You can use shop-bought or homemade pie dough, but to stop it getting too soggy from the fruit juice, sprinkle on some ground almonds before adding the cherries. If you’re feeling extra fancy, frangipane works well as a base, too. The most important step is to serve your galette warm from the oven, with generous amounts of custard, cream or ice cream – then eat it while sitting outside, preferably basking in glorious sunshine.
As for Cambridge-based cherry treats, I have a few recommendations. Thanks to my friend Elisa (@exploringcambridge), I managed to get my hands on the cherry pie doughnut from Fortune Donuts. It was delicious; light and fluffy, encrusted with crunchy sugar and studded with dark, juicy cherries, topped off with pillowy meringue and a fresh cherry. Follow @fortune.donuts on Instagram to nab a box.
I was also lucky enough to try the fior di latte, cherry and roasted hazelnut ice cream from Jack’s Gelato. The fior di latte (mozzarella made with cow’s milk, or ‘vanilla without the vanilla’) is rich, smooth and creamy, and contrasted nicely with the tangy cherry swirl and crunch of hazelnuts. I ate mine from a cone, battling against the blazing sun as my scoop threatened to melt over my hands – which, in my opinion, is the only way to enjoy ice cream.
Follow Elisha’s Instagram account (@elisha.eats) for more foodie content and inspiration.