We made cherry brandy last year but we haven’t finished all of it and it is now cherry season again… and my head still hurts. So this years crop will be turned into a delicious Morello cherry jam … or possibly a conserve.
The difference between a conserve and a jam is a purely technical one about the size of the lumps of fruit. On this topic I couldn’t care less but if pedantry is your thing then this article explains it.
On with the cherry jam: step one is to go out and pick your cherries. If you don’t have a cherry tree of your own, do what we did and plant one in the garden. Cherry trees grow fast so just a few years down the line you will find you have more free fruit than you will know what to do with.
I picked 250 cherries (two bowls full) which still left plenty of fruit on the tree for the garden birds. I took my haul back to the kitchen where I rinsed them and picked through. In the end I had 230 good cherries to make jam with. (yes I know counting cherries is overkill, but I wanted to give you guys as much detail as possible.)
Preparing your cherries for jam making
Next I sliced each cherry to remove the stone. This is a simple job but the photo does seem to show me doing it one handed. I’m good, but not that good. I weighed the de-pitted cherries and discovered I had exactly 1kg of fruit.
I had put three empty 1lb kilner jars and lids into the washing machine along with a jam funnel, which is a very useful object for any jam maker. To sterilize the jars more fully you can use a food safe sterilising tablet or pop them in the oven for a bit. I also put a couple of small saucers into the freezer; (more about them later).
Morello Cherry Jam Recipe
I added 900g sugar and the juice of half a lemon and the peel from an apple (for pectin to make the jam set). Then I just put heat under the pan and started cooking. I stirred while the sugar was melting and then removed the spoon so I wouldn’t be tempted to keep stirring. My recipe was very firm on this point so I didn’t want to tempt fate.
I brought the temperature up slowly over five minutes and then set it on a rolling boil for thirty minutes. Remember not to stir once it is fully boiling!
Erm then I stood around waiting. Don’t leave it unattended because boiling jam all over the cooker is quite frankly a pain in the chuff.
… Yup, that is pretty much it. Morello cherry jam is not a difficult make.
After the half hour of boiling was done, to check whether the jam was ready I put a half teaspoonful on one of the icy plates. Put it in the fridge for a minute and then ran a finger through it. If it moved like jam, it was ready. If it was still runny, it needed more time.
I ended checking on the cold plate half a dozen times (hence using two plates so one was always in the fridge) before I was happy and then it was a simple matter of pouring the Morello cherry jam into pots and sealing them up.
In total I made enough jam for four of these large (370g) pots which went into the larder and still had half a cupful left over that went into the fridge to be eaten immediately.
My homemade labels were made from halves of ice lolly sticks, but that was just me having fun. Do label you pots though as I have a jar of ‘something’ in the larder that I really dont know what it is as the label came off years ago.
If you have lots more cherries left on the tree, don’t forget to give our Cherry Brandy Recipe a go.