Sweet and sour cherries are at their peak at the Green Market and sour cherry jam just happens to be the perfect partner to my toast addicton.
I love toast, it is the perfect comfort food. Maybe I love it becuase it reminds me of being a kid or perhaps I love it because it was one of the very first things I made on my own, burnt edges and all. Toast is about crunch and good bread but delicious butter and jam are right up there in that equation. Last weekend I put up six jars of sweet and sour cherry jam. This might not seem like much but on a cold winter morning, that trio can bring me right back to summer. I have had moderate success with sour cherry jam in the past. When making jam, I sometimes err on the less is more side of the sugar bowl. Sour cherries are super low in pectin so getting it to "set" can be a bit of a challenge, especially when it is sugar deficient!. I was happy to stumble across David Lebovitz's no recipe cherry jam! That is just my style as I am a girl who often wings it in the kitchen. I am all about a no recipe recipe. This one was super easy AND successful! Now I have a little bit summer set aside for that toast on snowy days or maybe I will just eat all six jars before the first leaf falls. x
below text David Lebovitz
1. Buy as many cherries as you feel like pitting.
Usually I have the patience for about 3 pounds, but it’s up to you. Figure one pound of cherries will make one good-sized jar of jam. Plump, dark Bing cherries work really well, although Burlats are good, and if you can find sour cherries, your jam will rock.
2. Wear something red. Rinse the cherries and remove the stems. Using the handy cherry pitter that I told you to buy a few weeks ago, pit the cherries. Make sure to remove all the pits. Chop about 3/4ths of them into smaller pieces, but not too small. Leave some cherries whole so people can see later on how hard you worked pitting real cherries. If you leave too many whole ones, they’ll tumble off your toast.
3. Cook the cherries in a large non-reactive stockpot. It should be pretty big since the juices bubble up. Add the zest and juice of one or two fresh lemons. Lemon juice adds pectin as well as acidity, and will help the jam gel later on.
4. Cook the cherries, stirring once in a while with a heatproof spatula, until they’re wilted and completely soft, which may take about 20 minutes, depending on how much heat you give them. Aren’t they beautiful, all juicy and red?
5. Once they’re cooked, measure out how many cherries you have (including the juice.) Use 3/4 of the amount of sugar. For example if you have 4 cups of cooked cherry matter, add 3 cups of sugar. It may seem like a lot, but that amount of sugar is necessary to keep the jam from spoilage.
6. Stir the sugar and the cherries in the pot and cook over moderate-to-high heat. The best jam is cooked quickly. While it’s cooking, put a small white plate in the freezer. Remain vigilant and stir the fruit often with a heatproof utensil. (Wouldn’t it be a shame to burn it at this point?) Scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir as well.
7. Once the bubbles subside and the jam appears a bit thick and looks like it is beginning to gel, (it will coat the spatula in a clear, thick-ish, jelly-like layer, but not too thick) turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the frozen plate and return to the freezer. After a few minutes, when you nudge it if it wrinkles, it’s done.