Easy to prepare cherry jam; all you need is cherries, sugar, and lemon juice! Oh, and patience – like in all good things!
What is it about preserving food that takes one back to their roots, to simpler times when life was uncomplicated and unhurried? I’ve only been canning for about fifteen years, but whenever I do, I find it to be so calming and so rewarding.
Canning jams is one of the easiest forms of canning, in my opinion. Jams do not have a long list of ingredients, nor does it have complicated instructions. If you’re new to the world of canning, making jams to preserve throughout the winter, is a great place to start.
Whenever I make jam, I tend to use the same recipe over and over again. I do not use any additives such as store-bought pectins or other thickening agents. I use lemon juice, because the citric acid in the lemon juice helps not only to elevate the flavour of jam, but to preserve it naturally as well.
I also use sugar – but not too much! I use just enough sugar to sweeten the jam and to help thicken it. The addition of the sugar also helps with the preserving, but adding a touch a sweetness to your berries or fruit can bring out the natural flavours and enhance the overall taste.
Now, let’s talk about cherries. In most grocery stores, there are only two varieties of cherries that are commonly found. They are called Bing and Rainer Cherries. So, what’s the difference? Visually, the difference is very easy to see. Bing cherries are dark in colour – almost like a deep purple, and Rainer cherries are lighter in colour, and most commonly reddish pink with lighter yellow bits too.
When I was making these Cherry Jam Preserves, I used Bing cherries. Likewise, when I prepared my Quick and Easy Cherry Pie Filling and my Cherry Cake with a Pecan Crumble Topping last summer, I used a Bing cherries as well. You see, I find that Rainer cherries are perfect eating cherries, but when it comes to baking and cooking, Bing cherries are preferred, because they tend to be larger and sweeter.
I think the same can be said about making jam. Bing cherries will allow you to use less sugar because of their natural sweetness. And, with Bing cherries, you’ll get that familiar deep and dark purplish colour you see in most cherry jams and preserves.
Cherry Jam Preserves is a recipe which will allow you to easily use up your early summer cherry bounty. I like to buy cherries when they are in season and make preserves. Sure, it’s not the same as a fresh cherry, but in the middle of winter, when fresh cherries are hard to find, you’ll be glad you took the time to can some of those cherries while they were readily available.
Whether you eat your cherry jam on toast or spread onto a vanilla cake, Cherry Jam Preserves will be a go-to over and over again. Easily adaptable – add more sugar if you want a sweeter jam, but don’t cut back on the sugar or the lemon. You’ll need those two to keep the jam preserved well. Double or triple the recipe for larger batches. Keep in mind that adding more sugar or increasing the volume of ingredients will result in longer cook times to get the thick consistency before filling your jars.
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Cherry Jam Preserves
- 5 250 ml mason jars with screw bands and new, unused sealing discs.
- Water Bath Canner with Jar Rack
- Jar Wrench/Lifter
- Canning Funnel
- Non-metallic Bubble Remover
- Magnetic Lid Lifter
- 12 cups pitted and chopped cherries
- 6 tablespoons lemon juice, freshly squeezed (about 2-3 lemons)
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 cups sugar
To Prepare Mason Jars:
- Wash mason jars and screw lids in soapy water and rinse soap off well under running hot water. Place clean jars on a baking sheet and place in oven preheated to 200 degrees. Set screw bands aside. Next, boil a kettle of water and pour into a clean glass bowl. Carefully submerge the sealing discs in the bowl of hot water. Set aside.
- Wash the cherries very well in a colander. Using a cherry pitter, or a stiff re-usable straw, remove the pit from each cherry. When done, roughly chop each cherry into three or four pieces.
- Place the chopped cherries in a large sauce pan or pot. Add the water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Gently boil for 20 minutes.
- Add the lemon juice and the sugar and stir until dissolved. Bring back to a low boil. Continue to boil uncovered over medium heat for 30-40 minutes, depending on how much liquid is in your cherries and how thick you prefer your jam to be. DO NOT walk away from the jam once you add the sugar. The sugar will burn quickly and easily. Continue to stir and carefully monitor the progress.
- In the meantime, fill your water bath canner to the halfway mark with water and add the jar rack. Bring to a full boil.
- Ladle the cherry jam into prepared mason jars using a funnel to prevent the sauce from touching the rim of the jars.
- Use the non-metallic bubble remover to remove any air bubbles.
- Wipe down the rim of each jar with a damp paper towel to ensure no jam has come in contact with the rim.
- Carefully remove the sealing discs from the hot water with a magnetic lid lifter. Position the sealing disc directly onto the lid of the jars. Do not touch the underside of the lid.
- Screw on the screw bands until firm – do not apply pressure! Just use your fingertips to tighten the screw bands.
- Using the jar lifter, place the jars into the water bath canner with the boiling water. Do not place the lid on the canner.
- Boil for 20 minutes. Carefully remove each jar from the canner using the jar lifter. Try not to tilt the jars. Place jars onto a wire cooling rack that has been covered with a clean kitchen towel.
- Leave the jars to cool for a minimum of 12 hours. Once cooled, wipe the jars of any residue that might have been transferred to the outside of the jar during the boiling process. Label the jars and store in a dark, cool cabinet for up to one year.
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