cherry jam

© Nick Loven

It's a sad fact that cherry trees in the UK are in decline, we've lost 90% of our cherry orchards in the last 50 years and now import 95% of the cherries we eat. I've had a good look around where I live, and sadly, most of the cherry trees are ornamental, yielding little or no fruit, and the fruit it brings is incredibly sour. Luckily, near where Nick's parents live there are a few very good places for cherry foraging, so this weekend we went a-raiding and came away with about 3kg of delicious, delicious cherries. We've saved about 30 seeds and plan to plant them up, then out, when it looks like they can fend for themselves. 

© Keith Loven
With so many cherries we had meant to make jam, freeze some for cherry liquor, and some for tarts and pies. We got a bit carried away though and saved very few for liquor, and started making jam with the rest before we remembered the tart and pie plan. Oh well, guess we'll just have to go back and collect some more...

I've calculated the ingredients on a "per kilo of fruit" basis. Should work with any soft fruits.

© Lydia,
Cherry Jam, makes ~1.3 litres, 2.3 pints
1kg (2.2lbs) cherries, de-stoned weight
770g sugar
1 sachet (13g) pectin
115ml (1/2 cup) water
35ml (2tbsp and 1tsp) lemon juice

Place a small plate in the freezer, this will be used later to test whether the jam has reached setting point.
To sterilise your jars, immerse them in boiling water before drying in the oven on a low heat (~130°C, gas mark 1-2, 260°F) for approximately 10 minutes. Sterilise the (metal) ladle, funnel and/or perspex measuring jug you will use for pouring the jam into the jars in the same way. 

Bring the fruit, water and lemon juice to the boil in a large saucepan and simmer, covered, for about 20 minutes until the fruit is tender.
Reduce the heat and add the sugar and pectin, stirring until dissolved.
Increase the heat and bring the mixture to a rolling (rapid) boil. Boil for 20-30 minutes.
To test readiness, spoon a teaspoon of the jam onto the chilled place and place in the fridge for 1 minute. 
Remove plate from fridge and push your finger through the jam. If the jam in front of your finger wrinkles and generally feels jammy, it's ready, otherwise give it another 5 minutes boiling time and test again, repeating until setting point is reached. Remove the froth/scum on the surface with a spoon - this will result in a clear jam with a much nicer texture.

Pour into your sterilised jars, et voila! Jam!

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