Author Notes: I grew up in sour cherry country, West Michigan. When I moved to Ohio, I missed the beautiful fruit the most. Until I discovered a sour cherry tree in a public park in my neighborhood. Every June, the tree brims with cherries and attracts a colorful assortment of neighbors. Children pick a cherry, pop it in their mouth and run away crying– “Mom these are SO sour.” I bring a ladder, my ipod and pick the tree clean. Sour cherries only, please! —Hilarybee
Makes: 4 half pints
pounds sour cherries with pits**
cups granulated sugar
cup candied ginger, minced
teaspoon coriander seeds
cup lemon juice
- Sterilize all equipment that will touch the end product (funnel, spoons, ladle, jars, lids, rings). First, I like to use Star San brewer’s sanitizer. Later in the canning process, I dip utensils in boiling water right before I’m going to use them. Start a water bath canner if you intend to preserve the jam. Put a plate in the freezer.
- Look for Montmorency sour cherries. They will sometimes be sold as “tart cherries” or “pie cherries.” You want cherries that are smooth, garnet red and juicy. Take a cherry between your fore finger and thumb and give it a gentle squeeze- there should be clear juice and white, not brown flesh. If you have sour cherries with pits, pit them over a bowl so that you can recapture some of the lost juice. Three pounds of sour cherries with pits will equate to about 8 cups of cherries after all the pits are removed.
- Place the coriander seeds in a tea bag or a bit of cheese cloth tied with twine. In a non-reactive pot, combine the cherries, sugar, ginger, pouch of coriander and recaptured juice.
- We want to slowly heat the cherries so we get a slow release of juice, so start off on a medium low setting. After the mixture begins to steam, about ten minutes later, add the lemon juice. Increase the heat to medium and bring the liquid to a rolling boil.
- Cook the jam for 20-25 minutes. Cooking time will depend a lot on how juicy the cherries were at the start, pot size and altitude. As the jam cooks, the juice and cherries will begin to meld together. The fruit will become very soft and flat, so it will not have the same consistency of traditional berry jam. Test a spoonful of jam on the frozen plate. Expect that there will be a little separation between the liquid and the whole cherries in the jam, but it should gently wilt away from the cherry in a small circle the size of a nickel. Spreading beyond this indicates the jam is not set.
- When the jam is set, take the pot off the stove and allow it to sit for five minutes to get out bubbles. Fish out the pouch of coriander. Skim any scum off the surface.
- Ladle the jam in to sterilized, hot jars. Wipe the rim of the jar, and place new lids on the top of the jar. Screw on rings. Process in water bath canner for ten minutes.
- Allow finished jam to sit on the counter overnight. Take off the rings and test the lids to ensure a proper seal. Label and keep in a cool, dark place for up to a year–but I don’t think it will last that long!