Cornelian cherries, or cornels, are widespread across the Caucasus and southern Russia. They make a deep red preserve with a tangy flavour.
The Cornelian cherry has a high vitamin C content, making cornelian cherry preserve (zoğal mürəbbəsi) a popular winter remedy for colds and flu. The fruit is rich in antioxidants and is considered beneficial for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and for tackling stomach ailments and diarrhoea. The high pectin content in cornelian cherries makes them ideal for jams and preserves. Azerbaijanis like to eat cornelian cherry preserve by the spoonful or to add it to a glass of tea.
Preparation time: 2 hours
Cooking time: 2 hours
Serves: 5-6 jars
1 kg/2.2 lbs cornelian cherries
1.2 kg/2lb 10 oz sugar
2 glasses (200 ml/7 fl.oz) water
4-5 scented geranium leaves (optional)
Wash the cornelian cherries well, and remove the stones if desired. The preserve can be made with the stones left in the cherries too – this helps them keep their shape. Put the cherries into a jam pan or large saucepan.
Put the sugar and 2 glasses of water into a pan and heat slowly until all the sugar has dissolved.
Pour the syrup over the cornelian cherries and stir gently to ensure that all the cherries are coated in syrup.
Bring to the boil and simmer for 5-8 minutes. Remove from the heat and leave to cool for 10 to 15 minutes, then bring back to the boil, simmer for 5 to 8 minutes and leave to cool. Carry out the procedure 4 to 5 times in all. Add the geranium leaves (for a pleasant aroma) before the final simmer.
The consistency of the finished preserve should be almost, but not quite, as thick as jelly.
Leave the preserves overnight to cool.
Place the preserves into sterilized jars and seal.