NOTHING says summer like stone fruit, be it a succulent mango, a delicate white-fleshed Shanghai peach, or a handful of juicy red cherries.
Because most stone fruit has a limited shelf life, we only get to enjoy these delights for a few months of the year.
And I think that is a good thing. We've become accustomed to having a lot of produce items available all year round. I like it that there are still some things we can enjoy only when they are in season (and at their best).
But that doesn't mean we can't take some steps to lengthen the season by preserving them in some way.
I freeze pureed, poached white peaches in ice cube trays, for example, and use them to make Bellini cocktails. Jam is another way to enjoy summer fruit all year.
This week, because cherries are plentiful and relatively cheap, I'm making cherry compote.
Strictly speaking this is not a preserve as there's not nearly enough sugar, but it will keep for up to two weeks in a jar in the fridge.
I serve it on my breakfast muesli, or as a dessert with a little ice cream or vanilla-bean custard or stirred through an Eton mess with whipped cream and a few crushed meringues.
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1 cup brandy, cherry brandy or orange juice
1/2 cup sugar
finely grated zest of a lemon
Wash cherries, remove stalks. Remove stones using a cherry pitter or cut into cherries and remove with a teaspoon.
Place cherries, brandy or juice, sugar and lemon zest in a medium saucepan and cover. Bring to the boil and reduce heat until cherries are just simmering. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove fruit to a heatproof dish using a slotted spoon. Set aside.
Return pan to heat and bring to the boil. Cook juices until thickened, stirring occasionally. Pour syrup over the cherries and serve.
TO STORE: Pour compote into a jar and put the lid on. Refrigerate for up to two weeks.
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