For oh, years and years, I had ignored the random cherry-producing plant (logic would suggest it’s a tree, but it really doesn’t look tree-like) in the front yard. It never really seemed to yield that much fruit, just a smattering that would be left for the birds. Somehow, it decided to make up for lost time this year, and its branches became so loaded with cherries that it became impossible to weed-whack underneath as the sheer weight made the lower branches sag right to ground level.
And that’s not all of them! That front pail was full, and you can’t see the extra-large mop bucket likewise full on the bottom shelf of the fridge. While they’re certainly edible, they’re tart as all get-out, which rather curbed the urge to try to snack on them unadorned (imagine trying to eat a cranberry straight up: not vile, but not something anybody ever does).
I had tossed around the idea of making Cherry Mountain Cake, a recipe given to me by one of the underwriters that makes for a spectacular and show-stopping dessert. The logistical headache or storing the finished product, however, quickly struck that from my list. Maybe I could preserve them somehow…
Full confession: I was a Jam Virgin. I’ve always loved the idea of turning summer-fresh fruit into a lovely homemade spread to be enjoyed year-round, but it was an intimidating prospect. Canners! Water baths! Making sure a tight seal is formed so you don’t inadvertently poison your lucky test subjects with botulism! No, I needed something simple; maybe a freezer jam of sorts. And so I happened upon this recipe.
What I Liked
- It was really, really simple. If you have a pot and a spoon, you can make this.
- It’s a cheap recipe. Granted, I got the cherries for free, and all I had to buy was the jelly powder in place of pectin. Risk vs. reward ratio is excellent on this one.
What I Didn’t Like
- It’s so simple that it leaves out some really important information. Cook for 15 minutes? Okay, but at what heat? Also, if your fruit is exceptionally juicy, do you have to adjust/eliminate the water, or increase the jelly powder? Or do you drain the fruit?
- It’s sweeeeeet. Crazy sweet. I started out with tart fruit, and I find it sweet – I can’t imagine what a version made with a naturally sweeter base would taste like.
Partway through the fifteen minutes of unspecific cooking.
“Jarred”, and ready to eat-or-freeze. Since the motto of simplistic jams the world over appears to be “use whatever containers you want, just leave me alone”, I opted for the sturdy yet versatile number seen above. I had no idea if it was going to turn out, and I figured if it didn’t, I could at least wash these babies out and use them for something else; the last thing I wanted was to be stuck with a bunch of breakable Mason jars I’d never wind up using again.
It didn’t firm up quite the way I had hoped (and naturally, the recipe didn’t indicate what sort of consistency it should have or how long it should take to set). But…it’s not completely liquid, either, which I consider a half-victory.
It spreads nicely and pairs excellently with peanut butter. Spills are best prevented by holding one’s bagel completely level. And hey, it’s tasty!
Has anyone ever tried a recipe like this?
Thanks for looking! 🙂
2 thoughts on “Homemade preserves? That’s totally my jam!”