The season for harvesting cherries is short, but one way to enjoy this delicious fruit all year is to preserve them. When making cherry jam, you know for sure it will be bursting with chunky cherries and you can control the sweetness. If you plan to make a lot, you might want to use a cherry pitter to reduce the pitting time.
This recipe is straightforward, suitable for beginners, and there is no need for any special tools.
Use of pectin
Stone fruits such as cherries, apricots, peaches and plums do not contain pectin unlike apples or citrus fruit. Adding pectin will help thicken the jam. The quantity of pectin may change according to your personal preference. Less pectin will give a soft to runny jam texture and high pectin content will make the jam more solid.
Test the texture
If you have a sugar thermometer, 104°C is the perfect temperature to cook jam.
There is a manual way to test the doneness of your jam. Before you start cooking, place a small plate in the freezer. Once your jam is cooked, spoon a small amount of the jam on the chilled plate. The jam cools quickly and thickens almost instantly. Use your fingertip to press into the jam. When it’s cooked right, you should see the surface wrinkles. If it doesn’t, simmer the jam for another 5 to 10 minutes.
Sterilising is an important process when preserving food. This action is required to remove all bacteria, yeasts, fungus and organisms from the jar.
- Wash the jars and lids with soapy water, and rinse well.
- Bring a large amount of water to the boil and immerse jars and lids into the boiling water for 5 minutes.
- Use tongs to remove the jars and lids from the water and place them on a kitchen towel to cool.
Chunky Cherry Jam
- Wash the cherries, cut them by half and remove the stones. Wrap the stones in cheesecloth and tie with kitchen twine.
- Place the pitted cherries with the brown sugar, lemon slices and the cheesecloth wrapped stones in a heavy saucepan.
- Start cooking the cherries over low heat, stir until the sugar dissolves into the cherry juice. When the juice is warm (40°C) stir in the caster sugar and pectin.
- Once the jam reaches boiling point, let it simmer for 20 minutes. Stir frequently and remove impurities.
- Transfer the hot jam into the sterilized jar and seal. Place the jar upside down and allow it to cool.
- Less pectin will give a soft to runny jam texture and a high pectin content will make the jam more solid.