I’m a sucker for jam – making it and eating it – and I always dig for the wee jar of cherry jam on restaurant brunch tables. BC cherries aren’t quite ready yet, but I happened to have a bag of frozen ones in the freezer – already pitted, even – and so tonight in an attempt to kickstart summer I made a small pot. Four jars’ worth – just enough to disgrace myself with buttered toast, and share a few with those I know will do the same.
I can hardly keep up with the influx of beautiful new cookbooks these days, but my pal Amy in Victoria has been working on hers for years, and I’ve been particularly looking forward to it – not only because Amy is awesome, but because I have a fondness for books on the subject of preserves.
Also – a fondness for Amy. She’s sweet and lovely and kind and funny, and showed up at my launch for the dog cookbook at the Empress with a box of Roger’s chocolates for me to be alone with in my hotel room. I remember the day she texted to share the news she had been contacted by Penguin! and asked to write a cookbook! and the topic is so fitting – she earned her certificate in home preserving; she knows her stuff but makes it easy – she’s done a fantastic job of covering everything from jams to pickles to chutneys to mustards to barbecue sauces in a book that’s just the right size to prop up in the kitchen as you work. I wish I was her neighbour.
Amy adds the zest and juice of an orange to her cherry jam, which is something I wouldn’t have thought of – I’ve done so with plums, but cherries are in even greater need of a squeeze of acid and are far better for it. The result still tastes brightly of cherries, but is somehow sunshinier, which explains the whole name thing. It couldn’t be simpler: simmer the fruit and pectin, add the sugar, give it a hard boil for a couple minutes and you’re done. If you’re nervous about whether or not your jam will set, this is what I look for: it should be a little wobbly in the pot, the bubbles thicker and slower, almost like liquid Jell-O. It should look like melted jam rather than syrup, if that makes any sense. And if you dip in a spoon and let it cool off a bit, it should wrinkle when you nudge it with your finger.
Yay Amy! It’s here! It’s beautiful! And it’s just in time, because everything is growing.
Sunshine Cherry Jam
I made half as much as this recipe calls for – only because I had a pound and a half bag of cherries in my freezer and a half packet of pectin at the bottom of my baking drawer. It comes from The Canning Kitchen, by Amy Bronee.
3 lb. dark sweet cherries, pitted
zest and juice of 1 navel orange
1 pkg. pectin
6 cups sugar
Coarsely chop the cherries (I halved some, quartered some) and put them into a medium-large pot with the orange zest and juice and pectin. Bring to a full boil over high heat, stirring constantly.
Stir in the sugar and bring back to a full, hard boil. Keep it at that full boil for a minute or two, then remove it from the heat. When it settles, spoon off any scum that rises to the surface. Ladle into clean jars (I like them fresh from the dishwasher or a hot water bath) and seal.
Makes 7 – 1 cup jars.