Part of the fun of having a food blog is that you get to make things you wouldn't ordinarily think of.
Like .. cherry jam. My inability to find cherry jam at my local grocery store was all the inspiration I needed to make it from scratch for the BWD challenge two weeks ago (Hidden Berry Cream Cheese Torte).
An online search for a simple recipe that wouldn't require preservatives led me to DL's no-recipe cherry jam . And that's what it was - not a recipe, but step-by-step instructions on how to make the jam. It seemed simple enough, not much unlike my previous attempts at making strawberry jam.
I wanted a thick jam - almost like cherry preserves. So, here is what I did:
from David Lebovitz's recipe for no-recipe Cherry Jam
2 pounds cherries (half sour, fresh ones + half dark, sweet & pitted frozen)
2.5 cups sugar (roughly - since I had just under 4 cups of cooked cherries)
zest and juice of 2 whole lemons
a few drops of pure almond extract
Rinse cherries, remove pits and stems. Chop them roughly into small pieces - but leave some whole or simply halved to get texture.
Add the cherries to a large stockpot. Add just enough water to cover & mix in the lemon juice and zest.
Cook the cherries over medium heat until they are wilted and completely soft. This took me about 25 minutes. Once they are cooked, measure how much of the cherry & juice mixture you have and add in 3/4 of the amount of sugar. I somewhat under 4 cups so I added roughly 2.5 cups of sugar.
Stir the sugar and cherries and cook over moderate to high heat. While you are cooking the jam, place a small plate in the freezer.
Keep stirring the jam and scraping the bottom as you go so that you don't end up burning the mixture. If you use a thermometer - you'll see that the jam will jel at around 220 - 230F.
If you don't have a thermometer - use the frozen plate to test the doneness of your jam. Once it begins to look thicker & seems to be gelling, take it off the heat and spoon out a small amount onto the plate and return it to the freezer. Remove after a few minutes and test by nudging with your finger. If it wrinkles, it means it's done. If it seems runny, cook the jam a little longer and test again.
Once it's done, take it off the heat and add a few drops of almond extract. Ladle into jars, seal and let cool at room temperature before putting it in the fridge to cool.
According to DL, the jam keeps for a few months. In my case, it has lasted barely two weeks and I was able to save only a few tablespoons of jam in order to take these photos.
Here, I smothered it on the Tender Shortcakes I made this week. And what a blend of flavors this was: slightly sour cherry from the jam and the hint of ginger in the shortcakes.
One word: yum.