18 June, 2008

Cherry Jam

We're getting to the tail end of the California cherry season, and the stores here have been loaded with bags of delicious cherries. At least two of the blogs I read regularly - Fritter and Caviar and Codfish - have featured impromptu small-batch cherry jams.

Both recipes called for one pound of cherries, the juice and peel of one lime or lemon, a bit of almond extract, 2/3 cup of sugar, and half a cup of water as needed. Since I didn't have any limes on hand, I used a lemon.

The jam turned out pretty good. A pound of cherries only makes about 12 ounces of jam, which isn't enough for my needs (we give baskets of homemade jams, jellies, and pickles as holiday gifts) and although the lemon juice helps make the jam a little more tart and brightens the cherry flavor quite well, I'm less happy with the zest. Getting a bite of zest causes a tiny lemony burst which is okay, I guess, but not really what I'm after in a cherry jam.

I still have an eight-pound flat of strawberries in the fridge that needs attention tonight so cherries will have to wait, however. The produce store in town has been selling them at the gorgeous price of $1.99 a pound and if they still have some tomorrow I'll get six pounds and make enough jam for gifts as well as family eating.

Small Batch Cherry Jam

1 pound cherries, pitted and halved
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp almond extract
2/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup water if needed

Place cherries, lemon juice, and almond extract in a saucepan over medium heat and simmer just until cherries are soft, about 20 minutes. Stir in some water (up to 1/2 a cup) only if needed, then add sugar and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently to prevent scorching, until hot jam is thickened and bubbly.

Cherry jam sets up readily, so you need not bring the temperature to the full 220 F normally needed for jelly. When your stirring paddle comes out from the pan coated with a thick sheet of jelling liquid, test a few drops of jam on a chilled plate. If it's ready, it will set up on the plate after a moment of cooling; if not, cook a few minutes longer and test again.

Makes 12 ounces of jam - enough to fill three small 4-ounce jars.

Recipe adapted from Robin's at caviarandcodfish.com and Sarah's at fritterblog.blogspot.com.


Anonymous said...

Hi Dave: Glad you tried the jam! I was actually bummed too that I made such a small batch... I've already finished it!


Jen said...

Hi Dave- cherries were finally on sale at the stores here just this week but I'm not sure I would have the willpower not to eat them all if I was trying to make this jam!

Dave said...

robin, thanks for the inspiration! I had never tried making cherry jam before, and your recipe is great!

jen, the trick is to buy an extra bag of them for munching so you can keep from snacking on them as your work!

Sarah said...

Thank you for the mention, Dave! This jam makes such a lovely gift--I could eat it by the spoonful straight from the jar!