I clocked out from work for an hour this week and ran down to the local orchard to pick up a few pounds of tart cherries. We also went as a family to pick a few, but the work is really too tedious for the wife and munchkin to do for long. We got less than half as much as a family as I was able to get by myself the day before. All told we had close to 10lbs of the little fellas, and there was plenty of cooking to do.
The first recipe I wanted to make was a batch of Tart Cherry Jam. I also wanted to make a 50/50 Cherry Jam, with a combination of both tart and sweet cherries, but I haven’t been able to find any good domestic sweet cherries for a price I’m willing to pay. For today, It’s a straight-forward recipe, based on the “Morello Cherry” recipe from Mes Confitures. I don’t think the cherries I get locally are Morellos, but they’re close enough for my purposes .
Tart Cherry Jam
- 2.25 lbs stemmed and pitted tart cherries (2.75
- 3.25 cup sugar 
- Juice of 1 Lemon
- 0.5 bag low-sugar pectin
Give the cherries a rough chop. Mix the cherries, sugar and lemon juice together in a large bowl and allow to macerate together for an hour or more. Move the mixture into a pot over medium heat until it just starts simmering. Remove from heat, put the mixture in a glass or ceramic bowl, and refrigerate overnight.
Next day, strain the cherry mixture over a pot to collect the syrup. Add the pectin (add a little extra sugar if you need, to reduce clumping). Bring to a rolling boil over medium-high heat, stirring continuously. Boil for 5 minutes or so. Add the cherry bits and bring to a boil again. Boil for 1 minute. Ladle into prepared jars with 0.5 inch headspace, and process in a pot of boiling water for 15 minutes.
Despite the name, this jam is anything but “tart”. Did you see how much sugar I put in there? I’m going into diabetic shock just proof-reading the recipe. It actually tastes, as anybody would expect, a heck of a lot like a tart cherry pie. The set, for the most part, seems good. Some jars seem to have set up a little bit better than others. Next time I might be able to cook the syrup down a little bit more and add a bit more pectin to firm it up a little better. With the amount of sugar I’m using, adding a bit more pectin shouldn’t affect the taste too much.
- Wikipedia claims there are two varieties of tart cherry: Morello (dark red) and Amarelle (lighter red). If those are my only two options, the ones we got are definitely Amarelles.
- We can probably use a little bit less sugar next time, but these cherries are so tart that it’s hard to know how little sugar we can get away with and still have the jam be pleasant to eat.