Whilst I have been in France, I’ve been to the market each week and have drooled over the produce. But there’s only so much one person can eat. What could I make to encapsulate summer in a jar? Something I could take back to Scotland to enjoy later? Jam of course!
It’s one thing deciding to make jam and then try making it in someone else’s kitchen. What could I use instead of my usual jam pan? What should I stir it with? Help! My first attempt at apricot jam was not too successful. I let it catch on the bottom of the pan and ruined it. One thing that really stumped me was how on earth you are supposed to use a digital thermometer in a boiling hot pan – the one I was using would not clip onto the side of the pan I’d chosen. And why did the digital scales groan and display EEEEE when I tried to weigh more than two kilos?
The second batch of apricot jam proved much more successful and I am happy eating it with my weekend croissant. Not content to stop there, for a week or so I’ve been thinking about making cherry jam. The cherries have been particularly luscious – huge black, sweet globes. I realised today that I had almost left it too late. Whereas cherries will be available in a couple of weeks from Craigie’s near Edinburgh , the season here is coming to the end. (Check out availability at your local pick your own place).
I bought 2 kilos and spent a happy half hour sitting on the step popping the stones out with my cherry destoner gadget – very satisfying. Although I would not suggest you start de-stoning cherries if you need to have beautiful nails that evening, you end up with stained fingers. By this time I had got hold of my trusty cooking thermometer (similar to this Jam Sugar Confectionery Thermometer available from Amazon) and off I set.
I checked out various recipes and rather liked the simplicity of David Leibovitz No Recipe Jam recipe. I have tweaked it a little. I have gone for a soft set jam, with large piece of fruit. Chop the pieces smaller and cook until you’ve got a harder set if you prefer. You can use any type of cherries and the colour of your finished jam will vary depending on what type you’ve used. Be brave, it is well worth having a go at your own jam. There is nothing quite like it!
Many recipes use equal amounts of fruit to sugar, I’ve used less. If you do this and want to be sure of keeping qualities, after you’ve made the jam, you can place the jars (with proper sealed caps) on a tea towel in a pan of water large enough to take the jars. Make sure they do not touch. Add water, bring to the boil and simmer for an hour. This creates a really good seal and the jam will keep longer.
- 2 kg cherries
- 1200 gr sugar (approx)
- Juice of 1 large lemon
- De-stalk and de-stone the cherries. Use a cherry stoner if you have one, it is so much quicker.
- Weigh the cherries after you've done this task. You will need ¾ of this weight in sugar. Eg if you end up with 1600 gr cherries after you've taken out the stones, you will need 1200 gr sugar
- Place two plates in your freezer. You'll use these to test that the jam has set.
- Cut smaller cherries in half, larger ones in quarters or cut smaller if you prefer.
- Place in your jam pan and very gently cook the cherries until soft,
- Add the sugar and lemon juice and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
- Bring to a rapid boil making sure you keep stirring so the jam does not catch on the bottom. Either clip your digital thermometer to the side of your pan or pop your conventional thermometer into the mixture to check that the mixture gets to the jam setting point 104C/220F.
- You will need to continue cooking for 5-10 minutes.
- Get one of the plates out of the freezer and place a teaspoon of the jam onto the plate and return to the freezer. If the jam is ready, it will wrinkle when you push it along with your finger.
- If not, keep boiling for a further 5 minutes and test again.
- Skim off any foam before placing in jars.