Monday, July 13, 2015

Sour Cherry Jam

One of the adventures of renting your first place with your husband is that you get to learn new quirky things about your home all the time. This summer, I have especially loved watching each plant pop up and getting to see all the different flowers immerge. We had the most lovely magnolia flowers in the spring, beautiful peonies in early June and are now just finishing the lily season. Just the other day, I noticed berries growing on the tree outside of our window. My aunt confirmed for me that it is a sour cherry tree and the fruit is edible! Naturally, I hopped on Pinterest and started searching sour cherry recipes. I decided to attempt a jam recipe!

Growing up, my mom and aunt used to make the most delicious strawberry jam. One year, my aunt even put a jar in the Christmas exchange and it was the most coveted item! But I had never tried to make it and was a bit anxious about how it would turn out. If you are a beginner, do not worry! It might take a little extra time but the end result is worth it.

I started by picking a massive bowl of cherries. My trusty helper, my husband, ended up eating most of his since he thought they tasted like sour Warheads (Anyone else remembers Warheads?!). But nevertheless, we got a big bowl full of perfectly ripe cherries. For the rest of the recipe, I suggest grabbing your iPad and throwing on some music or a TV show. I think I blew through four episodes of Grey's Anatomy while cleaning, pitting, cutting and cooking!

- 6 cups of sour cherries
*Note: This measurement is after the cherries are pitted and includes the juice
- 4 cups of granulated sugar
- Juice and pulp of two lemons

1. After you pick all your cherries, start by rinsing and pitting them. I didn't use a fancy trick but I know some people swear by using a bobby pin in the top of the fruit. I just used my hands since sour cherry juice is pretty clear and didn't stain. I dropped the pits in a bowl and the rest of the cherry in another bowl.
2. Cut the cherries into pieces and make sure to save as much of the juice as you can. I also left a couple of the cherries whole.
3. Put the cherries and juice into a non-reactive pot and cook for about 20 minutes. The cherries should be wilting and a deeper red when they are ready.
4. Remove from heat and measure out exactly how many cups of cherries and juice you have. Put back into the cooking pot once measured.
5. Add lemon, lemon pulp and sugar to your cherry mix. The sugar amount should be 3/4 the amount of your cherries. I had six cups of cherries and juice so added four cups of sugar. Once mixed, put the pot back onto the burner to begin cooking your jam!
6. Stir constantly and make sure to scrap the bottom of the pan. I kept my burner on medium to high heat for most of the cooking, only turning down the heat when the mixture bubbled up.
7. When I started to feel the mixture getting thicker and coating the spatula with a thin gel, I took the pot off the heat and tried the freezer test. The freezer test is when you take a small spoonful of jam and put it in the freezer. It works best if the spoon is in the freezer while you are cooking so that it is already cold. Leave it for a few minutes. If you test it and the mixture wrinkles, the jam is done. If not, cook for another few minutes and try again. This step took me a little while since I had to test several times. Better to undercook than overcook your jam. If you cook too long, you will caramelize your mixture.
8. Once your jam is ready, remove from heat and ladle it into clean jars. Make sure to wipe off any drips before sealing.
9. Let the jam cool at room temperature before putting in the fridge. The jam should keep for several months if it stays sealed and refrigerated.
10. Add cute labels or string for a personal flair on your homemade creation!!

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