The bounty of summer just keeps on coming. Last week, it was the 7 pounds of cherries Marc and the small Things picked at our favorite U-pick place. The girls and I really love cherries. The day that I go into the supermarket and see bags of cherries for $3.99 a pound I get very excited. I usually manage to eat a two pound bag all by myself over the course of a couple of days.
You can imagine how thrilling it was to see a huge mound of bright red cherries (with a few Rainier cherries thrown in). After three days of eating cherries for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacking on them throughout the day, I decided that I needed to actually make something. I thought about making this again, but ultimately decided that I wanted to go the jam route. I feel that store-bought cherry jam is never that good. I wanted something with deep cherry flavor but also a jam that was bright and full of spark.
I knew that I didn’t want to go the full canning route. I wanted a small quantity that we could eat in a few weeks (and I didn’t feel like spending two days pitting cherries). So I went looking for some inspiration and found this and this. I cut the proportions but upped the lemon zest. After cooking the fresh cherries down, I ended up with a thick, rich jam that is full of cherry-lemony flavor. If you can get your hands on some fresh cherries, definitely try this delicious jam.
Sweet Cherry Lemon Jam
1 lb sweet cherries, pitted and stemmed
1/2-3/4 cup of sugar (use as much as you need, depending on the sweetness of your cherries)
Start by zesting the lemon into a heavy-bottomed, medium saucepan. Cut the lemon in half and juice each half into the saucepan. Next, pit the cherries. I don’t have a cherry pitter so I cut each cherry in half and pull the pits out. Put half the cherries (either whole or cut in half) into the pan and toss with the lemon juice to prevent browning. Roughly chop the remaining cherries and add them to the pan.
Place the pan over medium-high heat and let it sit until the juices start to simmer. Turn the heat down to low and loosely cover the pot. Let the cherries simmer until they are soft and starting to fall apart, about 15-25 minutes (stir occasionally and be careful not to let it boil over). Add the sugar and stir until combined. Raise the heat and let the mixture simmer until the jam thickens (anywhere from 5-20 minutes, depending on how watery your cherries are). To test if the jam is done , place a small dollop on a ceramic plate. Put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes until the jam is cold. Take it out and give it a little nudge with your finger. If the jam wrinkles and forms a skin, it is ready. It should coat the back of a metal spoon.
Once the jam is done, take it off the heat and let it cool to room temperature (it will continue to thicken). Once it is cool, place in a small, covered bowl and refrigerate.
Makes about 1 cup. Jam will keep for a few weeks in the fridge. Use it to spread on toast, top ice cream, make a glaze for grilled chicken / pork. Or just eat it with a spoon. It is that good.