A morello cherry, or sour cherry, is a species of Prunus, native to much of Europe and southwest Asia. It is closely related to wild cherry, but has a fruit that is more acidic and so is useful primarily in cooking. The tree is smaller than the wild cherry (growing to a height of 4-10 m), has twiggy branches, and its crimson-to-near-black cherries are borne on shorter stalks.

There are two varieties of the sour cherry: the dark-red morello cherry and the lighter-red Amarelle cherry. Sour cherries require similar cultivation conditions to pears, that is, they prefer a rich, well-drained, moist soil, although they demand more nitrogen and water than sweet cherries. Morello cherries freeze well and retain their flavour superbly.

Sour cherries, unlike their sweet counterpart, are too sour for some people's taste to be eaten fresh (although Europeans and Middle Easterners regularly eat them fresh.) They are used in cooking, especially in soups and pork dishes, and pies. Also dried sour cherries are commonly used in cooking. They are used in combination with sugar, which balances the acidity and brings out the fruit's aroma and flavour. Thus a variety of liqueurs, desserts, preserves and drinks are made with sour cherries or sour cherry syrup.

Now, for a recipe.

Morello Cherry Muffins

Ingredients

Salt: half a tsp

Baking powder: 1 tbsp

All-purpose flour: 2 cups

Sugar: half a cup

Ground cinnamon: three-fourth tsp

Fresh or frozen cherries, coarsely chopped: 1 cup

Almond extract: half tsp

Egg: 1 large

Milk: 1 cup

Melted butter: half cup

Method: Grease and flour 15 muffin cups or line them with paper liners. In a medium bowl, combine the salt, baking powder, flour, sugar, and cinnamon; add cherries and stir gently to blend. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg, flavouring, milk and melted butter until well blended. Stir egg and milk mixture into the dry mixture. Fill muffin cups about two-third full. Bake the muffins at 180 degree C for about 18-20 minutes. Let them cool, de-mould and serve fresh

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