In one of my first blog posts I mentioned, but shared no details about, a batch of cherry jam without pectin which I cooked down into more of a “compote” than a “jam”. I didn’t share any details about it because I hadn’t tasted it yet. More than a year after canning it, I finally opened up the jar and gave it a taste.
Let me set the stage. I was just starting to make and can jams and jellies, and had only put up a batch or two of jam and some cherries in syrup. I found a recipe online for a cherry jam without using pectin. So easy, I was repeatedly assured, that an idiot could do it. Little did the original author know, that I was bringing a higher class of idiot to bear.
After making a few substitutions, in my usual fashion, I put the whole thing on the stove to start reducing down and thickening up. Well, it reduced down too far and got too thick. When I went to put it in a jar, the only ones I had left were pints, so I ladled the whole mess into a single jar. It was sealed, shelved and forgotten.
I didn’t know exactly how thick it was when it cooled, but I knew it was definitely too thick to be called jam. Also we’ve had a pretty steady supply of half full and unsealed jars of jam in the fridge, so there was never any reason to open it. It wasn’t until just yesterday that we were picking off a tray of cheese and crackers that I decided it was time.
Honey Vanilla Cherry Compote
Let’s be honest: This was a long time ago and I don’t remember the recipe. I don’t remember what I ate for breakfast today. Here’s what I do remember:
- I used sweet dark cherries
- I used about equal parts of honey and sugar
- A dash of my homemade vanilla extract
There was no pectin added, so I put all the ingredients into the pot and cooked down until it was thick enough.
I’m writing a blog post about this a year later, so you know it was worth writing about. In short, the compote was absolutely fantastic. Normally I find that honey loses much of its flavor and character when it’s cooked, but this time was definitely an exception. The honey flavor was strong, but not too strong and perfectly complimentary to the taste of the cherries. The vanilla added a nice backdrop to the other flavors, and helped the cherry flavor really stand out.
This was, in short, a very happy accident.
The compote is way too thick and unruly to use on toast or muffins or anything like that. We’ve found that it goes extremely well on a cheese tray, dabbed on to slices of aged Parmesan or aged Gouda. I suspect, strongly, that it would make an excellent addition to a recipe of baked Brie. I also suspect that, if thinned out with some white wine and heated, it would make a fantastic glaze for pork.
When cherries are in season again I definitely want to try my hand at a similar recipe: Cherry jam sweetened with honey and flavored with a dash of my homemade vanilla. I also intend to use some of the lessons learned to help further my endless pursuit of the perfect cherry jam.