After picking cherries with Addy the other day I had about a 1/2 gallon of cherries to experiment with. Since hubby doesn’t like cherry pie, and since I just ran out of my apple jelly, I decided to try making cherry jam.
Like most things I’ve been doing lately, this was my first time making anything from cherries. It was also my very first attempt at canning solo (and with no canning equipment)! Up until now I’ve been going to my mother-in-law’s house and she has helped me can stuff using her equipment. Well, I called her up to tell her I would be trying to can jam and she instructed me on how I could do it using my new stainless steel pot.
First I had to pit all of the cherries. A little tricky but not too difficult, just time consuming. (I think I’ll put a Cherry Pitter on my wishlist now!) As I was chugging along pulling pits, imagine my shock when all of a sudden I find in one cherry a teeny, tiny little… worm! I totally freaked out. Not because of the worm, but because it hadn’t even crossed my mind that there might be worms in the cherries, and my daughter had been popping them in her mouth right and left straight off the tree! Ewww!
In my state of freaking out (“Oh my goodness!! Ahhh! There’ s a worm!”) of course Jada couldn’t help overhearing my fit and came running to see what the fuss was all about. I said, “Look baby,” and showed her the tiny little invader, “there was a worm in that cherry! I hope you didn’t eat any worms the other day!” She kinda shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly and said, “I didn’t taste any worms!” And she walked off without a care in the world. I started really examining every cherry I pitted after that!
So my first attempt at preserving the cherries was making jam. Here is the recipe I used from a recipe in the Ball Blue Book, but tweaked a little according to what I had on hand:
Bing Cherry Jam
- 1 quart chopped, pitted bing cherries
- 1 pkg powdered pectin (Sure Jell)
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp. cloves
- 1/4 c. lemon juice
- 2 tsp. vanilla extract (could use almond too)
- 4 1/2 c. sugar
Combine all ingredients, except sugar, in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to rolling boil for 2 min, stirring. Remove from heat; skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 in. headspace. Place lids on jars. Process 10 min. in a water bath canner.
Yield: about 6 half-pints.
So, armed with my recipe I set out for the task. Like I said, I didn’t have a canner, or any other tools for that matter. This proved to make things quite difficult.
My equipment consisted of a small, med. and large stainless steel pot, a couple of wooden spoons, and wire salad tongs. Yeah, that’s what I had. I used the small pot to boil and sanitize my lids. I used the medium pot to boil my ingredients, and I used the large pot to boil and sanitize my jars, and to do my canning. The wooden spoons were all I had to try to get the blazing hot jars out of the boiling water, and the tongs I used to retrieve the lids from their steaming pot.
Did I mention that these “tools” did not exactly do the best job?? Have you ever tried to get a hot glass jar full of boiling water out of a pot of lava using two wooden spoons like chopsticks? Yeah… I got burned. But, I was persistent, and eventually I got the job done.
I still have a Canning Kit on my wishlist. I’ve been holding out for my birthday or Christmas, but I may have to break down and buy one before then, seeing as canning season is here!
Anyways, to can with a large stainless steel pot, I just put a dishrag in the bottom of the pot filled with boiling water, to keep the filled jars from touching the bottom. Once you put your jam into the jars, screw the lids on tightly and place them back into the pot, making sure the water is covering the jars completely. Then you put the lid on the pot and boil for the recommended time. Worked great!
I had enough jam leftover to make a 7th jar, which I put in the fridge instead of sealing. I wanted to try it right away. I have to say it came out okay. It has a kinda bite to it, a bit too spicy for me. (The flavor reminds me of Christmas… but I think next time I’ll leave out the cloves.) Nevertheless, I’m very proud of my accomplishment.
So, what did I do with the rest of the cherries?? I tried out my food dehydrator for the first time and tried making cherry raisins and a fruit leather. But that’s another post…