…my summer jam is really made from all these things. (And a lot less likely to leave you hung over and robbed of your silver spurs!)
The very first year the cherry tree in the front yard yielded fruit – honestly edible fruit, and not the kind you leave for the birds to peck at – I was thrilled. This isn’t exactly the Okanagan, so this was a novelty to me, one that elicited fantasies of making jam and…well, I didn’t make it much past jam. And when I first tried it using a Jell-o jam recipe a couple of years ago, the results weren’t great. (What did I expect? Jell-o is not and will never be a proper substitute for pectin.)
It’s not a huge tree, but it’s got spirit and bursts forth with cherries like it’s going through some sort of weird tree puberty.
Last year yielded another large crop. Since the idea of “real” canning terrifies me and has me convinced I’ll give someone botulism, I looked for a recipe for freezer jam, and found this. Even though the recipe specifically calls for sweet cherries, it works wonderfully with my tart little harvest, too. It’s remarkably similar to the one found inside the Certo package, with the small addition of microwaving the fruit-and-sugar mixture for a few minutes to increase the saturation point and help the sugar dissolve for non-grainy jam. (There’s something a little disturbing about a recipe using so much sugar that the fruit can’t absorb it all on its own, but even the Certo box calls for the same amount. In any case, that brief heating works like a charm.)
And, sure, the cherry jam was good, but I sighed that I wished I had my late grandmother’s recipe for strawberry jam. Hers was the best, bar none, and I had spent the entirety of this millennium to date without tasting it.
“She just used the recipe from the Certo box,” my dad pointed out. Wait. The same recipe that I had just more-or-less used with great success? “The very same.” Suddenly, memories of her retrieving a new jar from the freezer, not the pantry/basement flitted past my mind’s eye. I could have been enjoying this stuff for the past 15-plus years.
It was past strawberry season when I had that epiphany, but this year, there was no way I was going to miss out again. Farmers’ markets may or may not be a giant rip-off (case in point: the cherries that proliferate unbidden in the front yard cost $5.49/lb at the market, and they’re tiny and mostly pit, and tart to boot), but there’s no denying that fresh, local strawberries taste only about a million times better than their pale, flavourless California cousins. It was a challenge to not eat them all before I could puree and mix and jar them.
But I managed it, and was rewarded with this:
Keepin’ it real with mismatched and repurposed jars, there – yet another perk to freezer jam. Even tasting the mixture as I went along to make sure the sugar was dissolved was like a trip down memory lane.
Of course, it’s hard to justify spending $7.49/pint and not use the fruit you can get for free, right?
The freezer is full of unlabelled reddish jars now. But don’t worry; I can tell them apart.
(Editor’s note: I could have sworn the line, “I can’t see the difference. Can you see the difference?” was from some sort of margarine ad, but a quick Google search confirms it’s ABC laundry detergent. The more you know!)
I still had half a bucket full of cherries after the jam, so I baked the Bourbon Cherry Crisp from Sally’s Baking Addiction.
Warm from the oven, it was a bit like a cherryish hot and sour soup. But ah, at room temperature – heaven on Earth! The topping is crisp and lovely, and the sliced almonds complement the fruit perfectly. I’ve still got some cherries in the freezer, pitted and ready to go, so a second batch may be in order.
Thanks for looking! 🙂