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!
- Pick approximately 1.5 kilos of cherries (if you are lucky enough to have access to a cherry tree).
- 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!
- Cook the cherries in a large pot. Add the zest and juice of one and a half fresh lemons.
- Cook the cherries, stirring once in a while with a wooden spoon until they are wilted and soft (approx. 20 minutes).
- 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).
- 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!
- 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.
- “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
- If the jam isn’t gelling yet, cook it further, turn off the heat and test again. Do not let the sugar caramelize!
- 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.