We took advantage of the cherry season this year, purchasing ours from The Farmer’s Daughter in Capon Bridge, WV. Last week we set about making jam, which is one of my favorite things to do. It’s easy, delicious, and makes a beautiful gift. This recipe yields seven half pints of lovely red jam.
Cherry Vanilla Jam
4 cups pitted, chopped fresh cherries (organically grown)
1 teaspoon good vanilla extract (much better than “flavorings”)
5 cups sugar (we use organic)
1 dry package Pectin
1/4-1/2 tsp real butter (this helps prevent the foam that forms on the surface of jams as you cook them)
To begin, thoroughly wash the cherries and remove the pits. Your best bet to make fast work of this tedious job is to visit your local kitchen supply store before you get started and purchase one of these handy cherry pitters. Pick up some disposable gloves too, as cherries will most assuredly stain your hands. I use three bowls for pitting; a medium size for the cherries I’m about to pit, a small bowl for the pits I remove, and a medium bowl for the pitted fruit. It’s messy work, but I rather enjoy it. Such pretty color!
Once your cherries are pitted, coarsely chop them and measure exactly four cups into a heavy duty saucepan, along with the pectin and butter. Put this mixture on medium high heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches a boil you can’t stir down. Lower the heat slightly and cook an additional 2 minutes, still constantly stirring and allowing the mixture to bubble nicely. Stir in the measured sugar all at once and bring the mixture back up to a rolling boil (this might take a few minutes) while continuing to stir. When it hits that rolling boil stage, set your timer for one minute and continuing cooking and stirring. Remove from heat after 1 full minute and add the vanilla. Stir well.
I let my jam cool for about 3-4 minutes while I remove my washed, dried and sterile jars from a 170 degree oven where I keep them warm during the jam making process. Fill your jars, leaving about a quarter inch of headspace, wipe the rims carefully, cover with sterile lids and rings, and process the jars in a boiling water bath for ten minutes. Remove and place on a folded towel on your countertops (the protects the hot jars and your counters). Let the jars sit for at least 24 hours undisturbed, then wipe them off and label them as you wish. Enjoy!