The topic this month is Food Independence.
Because I am slowly becoming an 18th century British housewife, a bag of sour cherries from my CSA just begged to be turned to jam. I currently know nothing of preserving or canning, and don’t have the patience to take that plunge just yet. So I searched around for something simpler and found this recipe for No-Recipe Cherry Jam.
This recipe appealed to me because it was the first I could find which didn’t mention something called “pectin,” which was not in my pantry and I didn’t feel like going out to buy. It claimed that the juice of a fresh lemon could substitute and still gelify the jam, so that was more in my comfort zone.
By dumbing down an already pretty simple procedure, I found that I could make quite good jam in about 15 minutes by doing the following:
1. Pit cherries (OK add in some extra time for this). If you are using something pitless like blueberries you can thankfully skip this step.
2. Put in sauce pan over medium heat and add the juice of one lemon along with some of the zest. If you have more than say a pound of fruit, add more lemon.I was probably working with 4 cups of cherries so one lemon was fine.
3. Stir that bubbling pot a lot. After maybe 15 minutes add in some sugar. The recipe I was going from said you needed to use a lot of sugar to keep the jam from spoiling. But I planned to use my jam up in a couple of days and I really didn’t want to add loads of sugar. I used about 1/3 cup and it turned out very sweet. And that was with a sour fruit. If I was using regular fruits I might not add any sugar at all.
4. Keep stirring over heat. It will miraculously become jam-like and you will know it when you see it. Shouldn’t take more than another 5 or 10 minutes – you don’t want to cook it too long or the sugar will caramelize and make everything taste funky.
5. Take off heat, put in a jar, and let cool. Keep in the fridge as long as you’d keep ordinary opened jam – maybe a few days?
My preschooler likes nothing but he loved this. And added to my homemade bread I could feel like the ultimate urban homesteader. Now if I only had a cow so I could churn my own butter…