90 min
5 8-oz jars
Cherries do have enough pectin to set - if you are willing to chop the fruit finely, that is. This jam starts with unpitted cherries, to make the process even easier.
  • 3 pounds dark sweet cherries
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2½ cups sugar
  • ½ teaspoon butter

prep the fruit, smash, and cook

Rinse the cherries and remove their stems. Don’t bother to pit them, but put them in a heavy pot and crush a bit, carefully, with a potato masher. Try not to splatter juice everywhere! You should end up with enough juice to cover the bottom of the pot. If not, add a tablespoon or two of water.

Bring the pot to a boil, stirring occasionally, and simmer 15 minutes, until the cherries are very soft and the pits separate. Remove from the heat and let stand, uncovered, to cool a bit.

prepare jars and other equipment

Meanwhile, prep the jars. Use any pot that will hold the jars and enough water to cover them by 1-2 inches. Put empty clean jars in the pot, add water to at least an inch over the tops of the jars, and bring the water to a boil. Remove jars, and let them drain upside down on a folded towel. Don’t drain the water from the pot; you’ll use it shortly.

Wash the lids in warm water and set aside (see new procedures for jar lids!) Keep the bands handy. Have an extra small jar, or custard cup, clean and ready for any excess jam. Put a small plate or sauce in the refrigerator so it’s ready for testing the jam.

remove the pits and blitz

Once the cherries are cool enough to handle, pick out the pits and discard them. Be sure to get all the pits out – check twice! Blitz the cherries with an immersion blender, or in a food processor, or put them through a food mill.

cook until you can make a clean streak

Combine cherry purée, lemon juice, and sugar in a preserving pan (I use this 4-qt one)Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce over moderate heat, stirring constantly, until it bubbles and looks quite thick. I like to test for doneness by putting a spoonful on a saucer, and chilling it in the refrigerator for 2 minutes. After that time, if I can drag my finger through the jam, and leave a clear track that doesn’t fill in again, it’s ready.  In my kitchen, this took about 10 minutes more.

seal in boiling waterbath

When the jam is ready, remove the pot from the heat. Ladle jam into prepared jars, wipe rims, and apply lids and bands. Anything that won’t fit in your four jars can go into the clean custard cup – chill it in the fridge, this is perfect with yogurt or on toast for breakfast!

Wipe the jar rims, apply lids and bands, then process for 10 minutes in a boiling water bath. Cool jars, label, and store in a dark cool place.

This recipe is adapted from Kevin West’s book Saving the Season. It’s a book with a lot of ideas and techniques – check it out! 

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