It’s been a bumper year for cherries in our region, but there are big differences around the country depending on local weather patterns. We usually enter a somewhat tropical weather cycle at this time of year with hot, sunny spells quickly interrupted with heavy downpours, which are difficult to predict and can really affect the cherries. Firstly, the fruit sugar content becomes markedly reduced after frequent heavy rainfall, and secondly, the fruit can split and quickly start to decompose. So while we just managed to harvest our main crop before the first heavy rain, other people around the country haven’t been so lucky. Slight variations in ripening times depending on microclimates and elevation also play a part.
This year with the help of our ESC volunteers, we’ve made some cherry compote, and also some jam. Cherry compote, along with Cornelian Cherry syrup made from the fruits of Cornus mas was one of the first things we learned to process when we arrived in Bulgaria over 15 years ago now, from a special lady named Ivanka.
|Sophie & Dylan making Cornelian Cherry with Ivanka back in 2007|
We’ve been sampling quite a few cherries from trees that we encounter on our walks. This week together with the ESC team, we walked out towards the west of Shipka to collect some herbs for drying as we’re planning to make some ointments and tea blends this year. One of the wonderful things about living in Bulgaria is the abundance of herbs and medicinal plants that grow at this time of year. We set out to where there is a well-established Chamomile patch locally.
|Marco & Ruxandra|
|Rushar & Tara chopping and dropping the biomass around the trees in one of our gardens, Phronesis|
|Tara making a doughnut shape around one of the Zanthoxylum piperitum trees. These trees should be much taller and more mature in growth by now, but the unfenced location has left them vulnerable to hungry herbivores both wild and domestic.|
|Markus getting stuck in!|
The Rose harvest continues usually until the end of June and some of our fellow villagers were only too happy to have six extra pairs of hands. The plant is Rosa damascenca – Damask Rose, and the blooms are harvested early in the morning by the sackful, and sent to a distillery to start the process of extracting the oil, a product that is currently more valuable than gold. This region is known as The Valley of the Roses, and most of the world’s beauty products contain Rose oil that originated from these very fields.