Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sour Cherry Epilogue

So whatever became of all those sour cherries that you lovingly and gingerly carried home from Columbia County two weekends ago, Gina? Glad you asked! A good many of them were simply pitted and frozen for future pies. And no, not pies for the farmers' market...pies we will make and selfishly hoard for ourselves and perhaps a few very special friends. Then the remainder of the cherries were fashioned into the most perfect of jams. The recipe is your basic Sure Jell formula, but with a teeny bit of vanilla and a mere whisper, a ghost, an innuendo of almond extract--flavors intended not to call attention to themselves but simply to make the cherries taste, well, cherry-er. The jam is also a beautiful, sparkly, classic cherry-red color, and it tastes bright and tangy and heavenly. For those who wish to try this at home (and I strongly encourage it), here's the recipe:

Sour Cherry Jam

4 cups prepared fruit (about 3 lb. fully ripe sour cherries)
1 box powdered fruit pectin
1/2 teaspoon butter
4-3/4 cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
few drops of almond extract

Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain well before filling.

Stem and pit cherries. Finely chop or grind fruit (I prefer a rougher chop as they break down a lot as they cook). Measure exactly 4 cups prepared fruit into 6- or 8-qt. saucepot.

Stir pectin into prepared fruit in sauce pot. Add butter to reduce foaming. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Skim off any foam with metal spoon. Stir in vanilla and almond extract.

Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/8 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed and refrigeration is necessary.) This recipe makes about six half-pint jars.


The Cookbook Junkie said...

That's basically the recipe I used to make peach jam (4 cups fruit, 1 box pectin, 2 T lemon juice, 5 cups of sugar) but my jam separated (clear 1/2 - 1 inch on the bottom, fruit the rest of the way up). Any ideas on how I can avoid that next time?

Joy Bugaloo said...

Well, floating fruit can't really be has to do with viscosity and other scientific properties that I'm sure I don't understand. But there's an easy fix. As your jam is cooling, just wander by every so often and invert the jars. Then wander back by later and turn them over again. As it sets up and thickens, the fruity bits will eventually stay suspended throughout the jam. Of course, if the jam is just for you, then who cares if the bits float? When you open the jar, just stir it up. Problem solved! ;-)

Joe said...

I never seem to come across fresh tart cherries... I've been wanting to get some to make jam! Lucky you!