Now I don’t profess to be a jam expert — unless we are talking about being an expert of eating jam for I am certainly an expert at that. However, a little while ago my Daddy-O and I had an evening of jam making that produced some delightfully delicious cherry results.
The best thing about this cherry jam is the texture. By using a food processor to puree the cherries to a thick and chunky consistency, the final jam product has a delightful mouth feel (and that’s just a fancy pants term for this jam rocks my friends).
Daddy-O likes to use Certo which is a liquid or powder jelling agent that is added to jam near the end of the boiling process. He likes the Certo because while it doesn’t totally ensure that the jam sets, it greatly improves the chances. It’s kind of like a jam insurance policy. Plus, Certo has fantastic recipes (like this one) that are perhaps not vintage in the technical sense, but they have been around for decades enough for me.
Here’s what I will say about jamming, you need to know what you’re doing. A little while back I suggested a couple of books to help get you started and I still highly recommend them. It’s not that the process of making jam is tough, it’s that you need to make sure that you have all the tools and the tips for proper jam sterilization before you jump into jam with dozens of pounds of ripe fruit.
Straight from the mouth of Daddy-O, here are a couple other great tips for jamming. Always use a pot that looks as though it is going to be too big — better too big than having jam all over your stove (trust me on that one). Similarly, use a really long handled spoon. When the jam is fiercely boiling, you will want to keep a little distance. Lastly, and this is a tip from Nannie Mary, add a couple teaspoons unsalted butter to the jam in the last few minutes of boiling — it will cut the foam.
Try your hand at jam friends, and try not to be scared. Educate yourselves first and get into the idea of home canning again. For me, it’s a vintage tradition that we should all try to bring back.
Sweet Cherry Jam (adapted just a touch from Certo by Daddy-O)
Makes about 6 cups of jam
4 cups fresh sweet cherries, de-stemmed and pitted
1 box Certo Crystals
¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
5 cups granulated sugar
½ teaspoon unsalted butter
Sterilize jars and rings being careful to keep them warm and sterile while making the jam. Lids should remain in boiling water during the jam making process.
Using a food processor, coarsely puree the pitted cherries. Place the puree into a large stock pot, mix in the lemon juice and package of Certo and bring to a boil over high heat. Allow to boil for a couple minutes prior to adding the sugar, stirring occasionally. Bring back to a boil and boil very hard for two minutes.
Remove the pot from the burner, add the butter and stir for five minutes to break down the foam. Keep in mind that while the butter will help with the foam, you may still need to skim some off before jarring.
Pour into sterilized jars, cover with sterilized lids and rings and allow to cool for at least 12 hours before sampling. Unopened jam should keep for up to one year if stored in a cool, dry place. Enjoy.