Yes, it´s back to jam again today. You may, or may not, recall that a nearby village is famed for its cherries. We had a very, very long and wet winter which meant that a lot of the blossom this year was lost from the cherry trees. Such a shame for those whose livelihoods depends greatly on selling their crop, a shame for the cherry fiesta which is coming up next weekend, and a shame for all the customers who were hoping for a bumper crop.
We were very lucky in that a friend gave us a kilo the other day. We tried a few and they were delicious, but I wanted to make my first cherries into jam, to capture a special moment at the start of summer. Cherries are quite hard to get to set (at least, these were!), so in this jam I used a sachet of pectin powder, the setting agent which occurs naturally in some fruit like apples and citrus fruits. If you can´t get hold of it (or the liquid pectin) don´t worry, a little grated apple or the pith of a lemon plus a few minutes extra boiling should do the trick.
After pitting the cherries (that´s a messy job!) I ended up with 600g of fruit to which I added 400g of sugar and the juice of 2 lemons. Feel free to vary these quantities a little if you like your jam less tart and more sugary.
As with most recipes for jam, start it off at a low temperature until the sugar has dissolved. This is when I added the pectin powder and then turned the heat up and got it bubbling
Keep it bubbling away for about 10 minutes. Don´t get distracted or walk away! If you have a jam thermometer, do use it, it saves having to reboil the jam later if it doesn´t set. Otherwise you can drop a spoonful of jam onto a saucer which you have previously placed in the freezer. When the jam cools on the saucer you push it slightly – if it wrinkles, it´s at setting point. If not, boil a little longer then repeat.
Leave the jam to cool down a little for 5-10 minutes so that when you pour it into still warm, sterilized jars (I run mine through the dishwasher to do this), the fruit will not float to the top.
Seal the jars while they are still hot and this will keep for at least a year. It´s delicious on bread but also fantastic on ice cream, especially if you warm it a little first.
Sorry, I only took a photo of it in the jars, and they are already earmarked to wing their way back to the UK with my friends! Luckily Big Man came home with several cartons of cherries this morning, so tomorrow I´ll be busy stoning cherries again for the next batch.