I know. It sound’s like a lot of work. My friend Kaye, said it sounds like torture!
Really and truly. There is nothing better than home made jam and there’s nothing you can buy that matches it. It’s made from the most simple ingredients. If you need a little something sweet on your toast, or for pike-lets, pancakes or scones. Or for fillings in sponges or jam fancies! You know what’s in it, just fruit and sugar.
As it turns out, cherries are a low pectin stone fruit (unless you have the sour ones). Therefore the jam will not set without some assistance. You can buy commercial jam setter but I have a preference to trying to keep things as natural as possible and use basic ingredients. In this case I’ve used lemon juice as the pectin source. This is good because I’m not just relying on sugar to set the jam and as cherries are already very sweet I think it balances out the sweetness very well. It also seems to preserve the colour of the cherries without the jam turning very dark.
This is how I do it.
Stem and wash your cherries. Pitt them. By the way, it’s a good idea to wear food handling gloves especially if you don’t want stained fingers! I chose to cut them in half along the seam of the fruit. A little twist, then one side comes off and the other needs the stone removed. Just push up on it with your thumb. You will soon get the idea. I did it this way rather than using a pitter to be sure I removed all the stones.
Once the cherries are prepared pour over the fresh lemon juice. Set on the stove top and bring to the boil stirring occasionally with a fork. Breaking up some of the cherries is good. Boil rapidly for 10 minutes.
Add the sugar, stir well, bring back up to a rapid boil. Once the jam is boiling again, start timing and boil for 40 – 45 minutes. Keep an eye on it. As it begins to thicken it foams up and can boil over so don’t go away (trust me I’ve learned the hard way). Try to resist the temptation of string the jam now that it has the sugar in it. This can lead to sugar crystals forming later.
The jam is ready when it begins to set on a cold plate from the freezer. I’ve also noticed over the years the sound of the jam cooking tends to change to a deeper sound, when it is about cooked and the bubbles are a bit bigger and moving a little slower in the pot.
In the mean time, prepare your jars. The jars need to be very clean and then sterilized. There are different ways of sterilizing the jars and they all work well. Choose what works well for you. The jars and lids can be boiled in a big saucepan for a few minutes or when they are clean they can be put in a hot oven to dry and sterilize or… this is my preferred method, Microwaving, which I have worked out. Put the jars to be used on the microwave table. Add a little bit of water to each jar, about 50mls. Gently put the lid of each jar on top – Do Not seal it. Put in the microwave for about 4 minutes on high. The water in the jars will boil and steam sterilize the jars. The Pyrex jug can be sterilize in the same manner.
Remove the jars from the microwave. Use a towel or oven gloves. Tip out the water from each jar and stand right way up on a towel on the bench top.
Use the Pyrex jug to decant the jam while it’s still hot into the sterilized jars. Put the lids on immediately and seal tight.
Cherry Jam! Enjoy
Makes 4-5 small jars. Could be a nice little Christmas gift too!