Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How do you like your cherries?

The recent extremely cold weather in the UK in particular has had a number of odd or unusual effects. My friend Rob Leigh was recently surprised in the morning:
"I opened my car door this morning to find what looked like a shower of broken glass all over the back seat and around the centre console. There was also a strong smell of cherries.

It had got so cold overnight that a couple of cans of coke had exploded. Luckily the contents weren't liquid and it was easily brushed up. That's the last time I leave cans in the car when it's that cold.
I'm up in Congleton at the moment. I don't know what the overnight temperature was but at nearby Woodford it was -16 C." [3 F]
I was reminded of Rob's experience when Bev went to fish in our car's centre console for some sweets on a journey home. As you may recall, we had a 44C (111F) day here recently, and that's the shade temperature. Inside a dark grey car parked all day in direct sunlight, it would have got a lot hotter. However there was a graphic demonstration of quite how hot it got coming up. Instead of a bag of hard cherry sweets, there was one, big, bag-shaped example. We are all familiar with the chocolate that ends up melted like a juice in a bag, this must've got to a similar liquid form, but if you had picked it up, it would've burnt.

These sweets are basically sugar and a little cherry flavoured syrup. A quick check by Bev in Stephanie Alexander's Cook's Companion reveals that sugar melts in this form at 112 - 130 C (233 - 266 F).

That's HOT.

More seriously it's been interesting that we've had several responses from UK friends, family and correspondents regarding the 40+ temps as being in some way enviable. Temperature, like other things has often to be experienced to be taken seriously. I don't have stats, but it's fair to say that the heatwaves here in Australia are as lethal as the current below zero conditions in the UK. Unprepared people outside have just died, and numbers of the elderly and infirm haven't made it through even in their own homes - in Victoria from heat, in the UK, from cold. Costs and demands for heating or air conditioning have caused spikes and shortages in both places.

Most of the debate on the issues to do with climate change miss one essential point - we are going to have to get better at coping with weather extremes than we are now. I like my cherries fresh or in Amarena, not burnt or frozen.


No comments: