Am I right in suspecting that people who aren’t canners don’t make their own jam? More’s the pity if that’s true. Everyone should make jam occasionally, I think. It’s a grandmother’s trick, preserving fruit with sugar and a few minutes of boiling on the stove, but it’s a trick worth keeping around.
I know canning sounds intimidating, all magic and mumbo jumbo, but that’s only until you see it in action just one time. And then it’s no big deal. This week a friend told me that she was inspired to can her first batch of jam after a recent visit where J and I were canning raspberry jam in the background when she arrived. That was a proud moment for me. But I’m not really here to talk about canning today. (If you’re interested, Marisa‘s your girl.)
You can freeze jam too, you know. Or better yet, mix it with yogurt and freeze it into Frozen Yogurt Jam Pops.
And here’s another thing you can do with jam: make just one jar, and eat it all up. Or two, and give one away. It’s an elegant little indulgence, and a smart way to give new life to days-old fruit.
Since you’re not canning this jam, you can take any liberties you like with the recipe. (Canned foods require a certain minimum level of acidity for safe storage, so always use a modern canning recipe if you’re going that route.) I started with three kinds of cherries, sugar, and half a lemon, then added a splash of almond extract at the end. Cinnamon or vanilla would also be excellent additions to this jam.One Jar of Cherry Jam: Combine 3 c. roughly chopped pitted cherries, 3/4 c. sugar, and the juice of half a lemon in a small non-reactive pot. Bring to a cheery boil and maintain the boil for at least 5 minutes, stirring constantly. If you cook the jam for a shorter time it will have more of a true cherry flavor, but if you cook it longer it will thicken more. Your call. Taste the jam and add more sugar, lemon juice, or other flavorings as desired. (I ended up adding a few more Tbsp. sugar, more lemon juice, and a few drops of almond extract–but each batch will be different depending on the cherries you start with.) Keep the jam in the fridge and use it within a week or two.
Yield: a little less than two cups, just enough to fill a reused peanut butter jar.