I am traveling all week, but brining you some favorite recipes for summer. Sour Cherry Preserves is the perfect kick-off. Of all the jams we've made this is – hands down – our family favorite. It freezes beautifully as well if you're not up for canning.
It is hard for me to fully express how I feel about this jam.
Heaven in a jar?
Happiness in a spoon?
Something like that.
We don't even eat bread and yet still we need a pantry full of this. amazing. jam.
Our new farm is blessed with an established (albeit overgrown) cherry tree.
Last year we arrived too late to enjoy the cherries, but this year the tree was absolutely brimming with fruit.
And so we picked.
And before we knew it we have baskets upon baskets of juicy tart cherries.
So we busted out the cherry pitter and set to work.
And all of those cherries were transformed into dozens of glowing jars of goodness.
And I swoon every time I look at this jam.
Right out loud.
I really do.
The flavor of this jam is so far beyond what went into the jars.
From these humble, simple ingredients comes one of the finest things I've ever tasted.
In my entire life.
But maybe that's the point after all. If we start with good, simple ingredients and old-fashioned techniques we'll end up with the best food around.
Just fresh cherries.
And a little time spent sitting at the table and standing at the stove, preparing the fruit.
Make this jam and I suspect you'll be rationing it for the coming year as it it were more precious than gold.
Which, of course, it is.
Sour Cherry Preserves
6 C pitted cherries & their juices
1 1/3 C raw local honey
1 TB Pomona's Pectin powder
1 TB Pomona's calcium water (included with Pomona's Pectin)
2 1/2 tsp almond extract
Prepare Jars, Lids and Canner
Sterilize 7 half-pint or 14 quarter-pint canning jars and their lids in boiling water.
Fill your canner with water and set on high heat to bring to a boil.
Turn off heat when it reaches a boil.
Prepare Cherry Preserves
Combine cherries and their juices with calcium water in a medium sized cooking pot. (Mix calcium water according to package directions.)
Bring cherries to a low boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
Meanwhile, combine room temperature honey with pectin powder and stir well until fully combined and free of lumps.
When cherries begin to boil, add honey-pectin mix and stir well until honey is completely dissolved.
Bring to a boil again, then remove from heat.
Add almond extract and stir well.
Jar that Jam!
Fill sterilized jars to 1/4" from top. (I find that this works out perfectly to be just beyond the bottom of my canning funnel.)
Wipe jar rims with a damp towel.
Lid jars with sterilized lids (I use BPA-free Tattler lids, but I saw that some new canning jars are now for sale with single-use BPA-free lids! Score!)
Lower jars carefully into your almost boiling water in your canner and set over medium-high heat.
Bring to a boil again, then simmer for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes lift jars out and allow to cool, undisturbed on a towel for at least 2 hours.
After 2 hours check each lid for a good seal, then allow to rest for 24 hours.
After 24 hours check lids again and move your preserves to your pantry.
A word about pitting cherries:
(Okay, many words.)
I knew there must be an easier way than pitting cherry after cherry, one by one.
So I Googled. And asked around. And Googled some more.
And then I pitted those cherries, one by one.
Becasue some things we just have to do the slow way.
I thought a food mill might work, but read that it breaks the pits up and spoils the jam.
We don't want that.
I've tried the paper clip method and it makes me want to pound my head on the table. Because I'm cheap/frugal/don't like to buy new stuff from China, I never invested in a pitter until I found this one (afflink) at the second hand store.
And you know, it isn't perfect. But still I love it. It worked great, even with these small homegrown cherries. We still had to pick each pit off of the cherry one-by-one when we were done (the kids and I decided we have "clingstone cherries"), but it did the job punching the pit to the outside to make that work easier.
Happy summer, friends!