CHERRY JAM (AKA 3 basic ingredients and a whole lot of love)

A perfect Saturday in late summer

A lazy Saturday afternoon on a sunny late summer’s day resulted in an impromptu trip to my in-laws’ place, and an afternoon spent picking cherries whilst my baby (squealing with delight the entire time) felt the grass between his toes. At home later on that day, I came across a recipe for cherry jam that, although it required some time and effort, seemed very simple. I was impressed by the lack of pectin needed (the lemon juice adds the pectin that helps the jam to gel) and the use of only 3 basic ingredients. Determined to make jam for the very first time, I figured this one was a safe bet. Not only was I proved right, but my husband declared upon trying it that it was the best jam he’d ever eaten (lucky we have 4 jars, in that case!). A labour of love, but well worth the effort.


Prep time: lots! – Cook time: lots!

  1. Pick approximately 1.5 kilos of cherries (if you are lucky enough to have access to a cherry tree).
  2. Rinse the cherries, remove the stems and remove all the pits*. *This was a laborious task for me with no cherry pitter on hand, but using a knife to remove pits did mean that I didn’t have to chop any cherries to achieve the desired fruit/jam consistency! 
  3. Cook the cherries in a large pot. Add the zest and juice of one and a half fresh lemons.
  4. Cook the cherries, stirring once in a while with a wooden spoon until they are wilted and soft (approx. 20 minutes).
  5. Once cooked, measure out how many cherries you have (including the juice). Add an equal amount of sugar (ie, 4 cups of sugar to 4 cups of cooked cherries).
  6. Stir the sugar and the cherries in the pot and cook over moderate to high heat*. *I was scared and kept it on a moderate heat… for a long time… which apparently does not give the best results, although I was personally happy with the end product. I’ll be braver next time!
  7. While the cherries cook, put a small white plate in the freezer. Keep stirring the cherries, scraping the bottom of the pot as you do.
  8. “Once the bubbles subside and the jam appears a bit thick and looks like it is beginning to gel, (it will coat the spatula in a clear, thick-ish, jelly-like layer, but not too thick) turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the frozen plate and return to the freezer. After a few minutes, when you nudge it if it wrinkles, it’s done.”* *amazing advice taken directly from the recipe* I found
  9. If the jam isn’t gelling yet, cook it further, turn off the heat and test again. Do not let the sugar caramelize!
  10. Add a few drops of almond extract if you wish. Ladle the warm jam into glass jars and cover. Cool at room temperature, then refrigerate (jam will keep for several months).


Recipe adapted from one by David Lebovitz.

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