pots of homemade jam from the orchard at Château Plombis

By chance, yesterday, we found ourselves driving through the Tarn et Garonne countryside slightly further east from Château Plombis.  Although only a 30 minute drive, somehow in this area the hills seem folded together more closely with steeper valleys between them so that you are either climbing or descending a hill.  Maybe because of this terrain the larger, rolling wheat, barley and sunflower fields found around Castelsagrat give way to small orchards, vineyards and cattle farms.

One thing we couldn’t help but notice on our travels were all the brilliant red cherries hanging from the trees in the steep cherry orchards.  We noticed them because here at Plombis our cherries have been and gone already, in actual fact about a month ago.

Fifty paces from the kitchen door at Château Plombis, next to the tennis court, is an orchard of about 8 cherry trees, with some plum trees too of different varieties.  Last year the cherry crop was rather pathetic and disappointing, despite a promising show of blossom in the Spring.  This year, the trees rested perhaps after a dormant year last year, the cherry crop redeemed itself and the trees were laden.

On a flying visit to the château for the weekend in mid-May, the owners managed to pick at least four kilos of prime cherries within half an hour.  These are their photos of cooking up the cherries for jam.  They also dried some in the oven to eat as snacks, like dried cranberries, and froze some to use for summer desserts and cakes later on into the year.


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