In many parts of the country its cherry season, especially in the Rocky Mountain West. And while those cherries are sensational by themselves, they won't keep on their own. That's where preserving comes in, you can keep the cherries all through the year, while enjoying their fresh taste! But what kind of preserves are we talking about, jam, jelly, preserves? Alison Duffy who wrote the cookbook Preserving With Pomona's Pectin says while preserves are similar to jam, they use whole fruit or a substantial piece of fruit. Jam is made up smashed pieces of fruit. Alison told Tonia's Kitchen about her Cherry Port Preserves. Alison says she uses whole or halved cherries and a small amount of Port wine. She says it makes a fantastic dessert topping!
Reprinted for ticklemysenses.com
Whole uncooked Cherries: 1 pound
1. Rinse the cherries and remove the stems. Using a Cherry pitter or a knife pit the cherries. Chop about 3/4ths of them into smaller pieces, the rest leave whole for a varied texture.
2. Cook the cherries in a large stainless steel vessel with just enough port wine and apple juice to soften or wilt cherries. Apple juice contains pectin that will cause the jam to set/ gel. Add the zest and juice of one fresh lemon. Lemon juice adds pectin as well as acidity, and also help the jam gel later on.
3. Cook the cherries, stirring once in a while with a heat proof spatula, until they’re wilted and completely soft, which should take around 15-20 minutes on a medium to low flame.
4. Once cooked, measure out the cherry mixture into a cup and use 3/4 cup of sugar for every cup of mixture.The sugar is necessary to keep the jam from spoilage.
5. Stir the sugar and the cherries in the pot and cook over moderate-to-high heat. The best jam is cooked quickly. While it’s cooking, put a small white plate in the freezer. Scrape the bottom of the pot as you stir as well. Do not allow the jam to burn.
6. Once the bubbles subside and the jam appears a bit thick and looks like it is beginning to gel, (it will coat the spatula in a clear jelly-like layer, but not too thick) turn off the heat and put a small amount of jam on the frozen plate and return to the freezer. After a few minutes, when you nudge it if it wrinkles, it’s done.
If not, cook it some more, turn off the heat, and test it again. If you overcook your jam, the sugar will caramelize and it won’t taste good and there’s nothing you can do. Better to undercook it, test it, then cook it some more.
8. Once it’s done and gelled, add another splash of port wine to the jam if desired. Port wine adds depth and sophistication to this jam. Ladle the warm jam into clean jars and cover. Cool at room temperature, then put in the refrigerator where it will keep for several months.