Artisan Sour Cherry Jam
Back in June, I picked 10L of sour cherries from my uncle’s tree and experimented with variations in method and taste for making jam. This is taken from a natural pectin recipe that uses lemon pulp. You will need:
- 1 kg sour cherries, pitted
- 800g sugar
- juice of 2 lemons (for pectin: turn lemon skins inside out and pull out all the membranes and pop with the seeds into a little muslin or cheesecloth bag, and reserve till the next day)
- sterilized jars and lids to make 3½ cups
You’ll need to allow two days for this recipe, but the overall time is not much at all. To begin gently mix the cherries, lemon juice and sugar and allow to sit overnight in a ceramic or glass bowl. The next day place a small plate in the freezer to chill – we’ll use this later to test for the jam’s setting point.
Strain the juice into a large saucepan. Place the muslin bag into this saucepan too. Bring the syrup to the boil and boil for about 20 minutes.
Add the drained fruit and return to the boil, stirring from time to time. After 15 minutes, remove from heat to do your first test. Take your chilled plate from the freezer and pour about a teaspoon-full of the jam onto it. Return the plate to the freezer for a couple of minutes, then push against the side of the little puddle with your finger. It’s probably not ready yet, but will need to be checked every five minutes or so… when wrinkles form across the puddle the jam is ready.
Once it’s done pull out the muslin bag and squeeze to release juices and the pectin that will have formed from the lemon membranes. Let the jam sit for 10 minutes or so for the fruit to settle. Pour into sterilised jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
I think I let the sugar carmelize (i.e. burn) on the first round – it is a very dark colour. Still, I got a good round from it. I made it a again with the remaining cherries. This time I let it sit all day in the fridge, but the sugar clumped so I couldn’t strain off the juices and had to modify the method slightly:
- 825g pitted cherries (~6½ cups)
- 660g sugar (~3½ cups; this is 80% volume of the cherries)
- 1 full lemon, squeezed with the peel and seeds wraped; plus two Tbs concentrate
It made 3½ cups.
After letting it sit, I brought the whole mixture to a roiling boil, stirring constantly. I held that for 15 minutes, then removed it from the heat to do the drop test (take a cold metal spoon and scoop up some jam-in-progress. Count to 20 and slowly tilt it. Does the jam run off in one big stream? Keep cooking. Does it ooze in several drops at a time, that slowly join into a sheet drop? It’s done. Taken from Gardenopolis »). I tested again every 5 minutes and got it on the 3rd try. Note to self for next time: boil for 20 min, then test every two. I almost over cooked it!