Recent visitors to the Hanwell Meadows and to Blackberry Corner (the Three Bridge end) in particular may have noticed quite a few cherry trees in full fruit. In most years the cherries are quickly eaten by the birds, in particular by wood pigeons who seem to love them. But for some reason this year there is a lot of fruit uneaten, much at height that makes it easy to pick.
The cherries are of a wild type rather than a cultivated variety. They are smaller than the cherries you might buy in the shops. In my experience the flavour varies from tree to tree: some are less sweet, others a little bitter while some can be a bit sour. Although they can be eaten straight off the tree they are probably best cooked or prepared in some way.
If you want to pick some you will have to be quick. In a couple of days I think they will be finished. Here is a simple recipe for cherry brandy that I have made and can recommend:
1. Pick enough cherries to fill a large jar with a tight fitting lid.
2. Put in a handful of granulated sugar – the quantity is not critical. Start with a little and you can always add more later.
3. Fill the jar to the top with brandy [or Rhum – ed]. An inexpensive brand is quite sufficient but feel free to use a better one.
4. Keep the jar unopened in a dark place until Christmas.
5. On Christmas day (or other suitable occasion) you can enjoy the cherries in some form of pudding while marvelling at the delicious tasting cherry brandy you have made.