Cherry Jam

This is my first time making cherry jam and I must say that I'm very fortunate to have taken the time to do so over the weekend.  In late June I purchased some sour cherries & yellow cherries at the farmers market with the intention of making a pie like I normally do every year.  I never got around to it.  The cherries had been pitted and frozen, yet they were still sitting there doing nothing, so I thought it was high time to make some jam!

I immediately went to David Lebovitz's blog to see what I could find, because he always has great recipes, tips and ideas for all of us.  Intrigued by a "no-recipe" cherry jam of his, I read the entry and set forth to create my own jam using what I had in the kitchen.  The ingredients were simple: cherries, lemon juice (he adds the zest to the jam, I do not) and sugar.  What could be easier?

Having read his entry twice, I chose a deep stockpot to make the jam and stirred, watched and tested.  Let me tell you, the jam that emerged from the pot is by far the best tasting cherry jam I've ever had!  It's everything you want in a confiture.  It's sweet, yes, but not cloying and the texture is a combination of tender fruit pieces, along with the smoothness of jellied cherry juice.

I'm already thinking of ways to enjoy it in the near future, because I see no reason to store it.  More than likely it will find its way into some plain yogurt or onto some toast for breakfast.  Imagine it on a toasted whole wheat bagel with cream cheese!

My cherries.  A mix of yellow cherries and Montmorency sour cherries from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania.  The yellows have a semisweet taste to them when you bite into one, but leave a slightly lingering sour note.  The combination of these two types is phenomenal!

  • Pot: choose one that has high sides to contain spatters, such as a stockpot.
  • Porcelain Plates: keep a couple of these in the freezer to test the jam when it's close to done.
  • Wooden Spoon & Ice Water: I have several wooden spoons that are used exclusively for making sweet recipes like jams and curds; use one with a long handle for making your jam.  A small bowl of iced water is kept next to the bubbling pot just in case of burns. 

The instructions below are based on David Lebovitz's "No-Recipe Cherry Jam".  Thank you, David, for providing clear instructions!

  1. Pit whatever amount of cherries you’re using into a large bowl and collect all of the juices.  Leave some large pieces and chop some into smaller pieces.  Juice one large lemon and strain the juice.  Put the lemon juice and the cherries (don't forget all of that tasty cherry juice) into your stockpot and place it over medium-high heat.  If using frozen cherries, simply use them straight from the freezer and begin breaking them up as they thaw over the heat. 
  2. Cook the cherries until they begin to break down and get very soft, about 20 minutes.  Stir often during this process.
  3. Remove the pot from the heat and measure out the amount of cherries and juice that you have.  I use a stainless steel measuring cup with marked measurements for this.
  4. Whatever amount you've measured out, use use 3/4 times the amount of sugar.  This is the only math and measuring you have to do for this recipe. [I ended up with 2 1/2 cups of accumulated cherries, so I used just shy of 2 cups of sugar]
  5. Return the cherries & juice to the stockpot and add the correct amount of sugar.  Cook over a medium-high heat and stir often.  Be careful at this point not to overcook the jam and not to let it go unstirred.  Watch for visual clues.  On my stovetop it took about 20 more minutes to cook the jam.
  6. When done, the mixture will be thick and the cherries & juice should coat your spoon.  
  7. To test, remove one of the plates from the freezer and drop a dollop of cherry jam onto it.  (Turn the heat off when testing to prevent overcooking)
  8. Put the plate in the freezer for one minute.  Remove it and move the jam with your finger.  If it wrinkles and leaves a clear trail behind, without any jam oozing back, it is done!  If it is watery, return it to the heat and continue cooking.

David Lebovitz tells us that you can add some kirsch or eau de vie to the jam when it's done, which makes it very tasty.  Knock yourself out if you have some in the kitchen!

I used a clean Ball Jar to store some of the hot jam.  The ring and lid were screwed on tightly and within the hour, a tight vacuum seal was created.  

Store any jam in the refrigerator and use to your heart's content.

A filled jar and one with a little leftover jam.  

Isn't it just delicious?

I had to try a spoonful of it as soon as it was cool enough.  Pure bliss!

There you have it. Cherry Jam.  As easy as 1-2-3.

Enjoy making this!


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