Gosh, I haven’t blogged in years. I think I’ll just jump right in with this recipe I created with a trove of local grown cherries. In NY the cherry season is short and therefore pricey, this is the ultimate in small batch jamming!
..and of course my camera had no battery while I was preparing this, but my dear photographer friend Kerrie Sansky took a lovely, luscious photo of the jar… after a few tastings (she also did the beautiful photo for this site page).
I bought the cherries from a local farm knowing I had no time to use them. I pitted and froze them first. Then inspiration hit. I often macerate my fruit overnight with sugar, I believe the overall flavor to be richer this way, the enzymes and pectin release right into the sugar while creating a juicy fruit mess to boil down. Mmm. You can also do it the quick way and I’m sure the results will be just as good.
If you are new to water bath canning I will be posting the ‘how to’ soon. I recommend looking through the National Center for Home Food Preservation in the meanwhile.
Cherry Chili Vanilla Jam
2 lbs washed, pitted cherries
2 cups sugar (I always use organic cane sugar)
1/4 cup lemon juice (bottled organic varieties are free of preservatives and assure proper acidity)
1/4 of a vanilla bean, whole
2 dried chili arbol, with seeds
1 tsp good quality vanilla extract (make your own!)
Combine cherries and sugar in a bowl (or the pot you intend to cook the jam in), let macerate at room temp most of the day and refrigerate over night until ready to use.
Ready your jars, lids and canning pot, this makes 4 8oz jars, the first time I have ever made an even number with only a bit left over, demonstrating how perfect this jam was for me (I seem to have a propensity to odd numbers, things, people).
Put a little plate with several spoons in the freezer, to test for set, alternately, you can use a thermometer that goes up to 220* which is where you want the jam in elevations under 1000 ft. Boiling point is different in higher elevations, please adjust (again, go to the link for NCfHFP).
Combine the lemon juice, vanilla bean section (not extract) and chilis with the cherries and sugar, bring to a soft boil over medium heat, stirring and mashing the fruit occasionally, for 15 minutes. Remove the vanilla, split it and scrape seeds into the jam ( you can chew on the vanilla husk while you finish preparing this). Start monitoring with your thermometer or using the frozen spoons to test set, this should be set at a total cooking time of 25/30 minutes. Once set is achieved, stir in the remaining vanilla extract.
Ladle into your hot, clean jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space, lid them and place in boiling water bath to process for 10 minutes. Turn heat off, leave lid on and let jars rest for 5 minutes more, this ensures a good seal. Remove jars, lifting straight up and out of pot, to a dish towel in a protected place you can leave the jars for 12-24 hours.
The little bit that is left over in your pot you can eat now.