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Articles - Gourmet Pleasures:

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Cooking with cornelian cherries

Autumn is the time when you can sample and savour the bitter-acidic cornelian cherry. The red cherry-like fruits are usually consumed in some processed form such as jams, desserts, juices, syrup or in cookies. The wild fruit goes very well with pears and apples which help to reduce the fruit’s acidity. Made into a preserve or chutney, the cornelian cherry goes well with venison. Make "false olives" by pickling the unripe, orange-coloured fruits in salt water spiced with bay leaves and fennel seeds, Treated in this way, they lose their bitterness and turn soft − perfect with pizzas and salads. Destoned and dried cornelian cherries are often added to fruit tea blends.

Where does the cornelian cherry grow?

The cornelian cherry (Cornus mas), also known as the European cornel, is at home in central and southern Europe. It is a member of the dogwood family and not related to cherry trees. The large shrub or small tree is frequently found in open forests, on the edges of woods, in hedges and parks. The wood is very hard and heavy enough to sink in water.


Because the cornelian cherry blossoms early in the year, it is a good source of nectar for insects. The oval fruits ripen from late summer onwards. They are popular with birds which disperse the seeds in their droppings.

Contents and harvest

The berry has a high content of vitamin C and B vitamins, potassium, calcium and iron. The fruits are also used in naturopathy. They have a slight fever reducing effect and are used as home remedy in the event of gut diseases, diarrhoea and vomiting.


Cornelian cherries usually ripen over a period of four to five weeks. The right time to harvest them is when the fruits are ready to fall off by themselves. A good idea is to shake the plant at regular intervals and collect the ripe fruit on sheets spread out on the ground. Destoning the raw fruit is not simple. One recommended way to process the fruit is to simmer the cornels in a little water and press the pulp through a sieve.


Source: Heike Kreutz, www.aid.de