This summer we moved to a new apartment in Sagene, one of the oldest districts in Oslo with a small-town vibe. What attracted me the most with the apartment was the kitchen with its 70s interior, the cosy table with the view to the allotment garden and the magazine rack where I easily envisioned my latest cooking magazines.
But there was one thing the real estate agent forgot to mention in the ad. The cherry trees. I lived in the new apartment for a month until I discovered the secret of the tree right outside the apartment building.
– Look! It has to be cherries! I yelled at my son Loukas.
They were dark red and sour, and there were four of them belonging to our apartment block. We picked the cherries, first just a little box in case others also wanted some. Then we fetched the curtain staircase to reach the top berries. Picking cherries became a summer ritual, where Loukas also picked cherries and ran around the tree enjoying the grass under his feet. He also loved shooting the stones with the cherry pitter.
We made cherry jam and preserved cherries with sugar, cinnamon and lemon. The preserved cherries are waiting for December when they will take part in the finest Scandinavian Christmas dessert, Danish rice pudding with cherry sauce, also called ris a la mande.
Note: Store the cherries in the fridge wrapped in a plastic bag as soon as possible as they quickly lose quality at room temperature.
Preserved cherries in syrup
jam jars with airtight lid
1 kilo sweet or sour cherries
1 litre water
350 g sugar
1 cinnamon stick
4–5 rinds of 1 lemon
1. First sterilize the jars. Firstly, choose glass jars with an airtight lid. Wash in hot soapy water and rinse. Preheat the oven to 100C/212F. Place jars and lids on an oven tray and heat in the oven for 15 minutes. (Leave them in the oven until you fill them).
2. Place water, sugar, cinnamon stick and lemon rind in a saucepan and bring to boil. Let simmer for 30 minutes to enhance the flavours of the syrup.
3. Meanwhile, stem and wash the cherries. Remove the pits with a cherry pitter.
4. Add the cherries to the syrup and bring to boil at a low temperature or else they will break.
5. Remove the cinnamon stick with a slotted spoon. Use the slotted spoon to transfer the cherries to the jars and then pour over the syrup. Seal immediately and turn upside down for two minutes. Turn upright and place in a cold and dark place for December, or up to years.
Cherry sauce for Christmas
Put the cherries aside and bring the syrup to boil. Adjust the sweetness by adding lemon juice and thicken with maizenna. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cherries.