Friday 17 January 2014

Central Otago Black Cherry Jam

There is nothing better for me than getting back to our quiet little corner of the burbs after a great holiday with the family. Our travels took us through some of the best fruit growing areas that Central Otago has to offer, so we called in at the Jones Fruit stall in Cromwell to stock up on some beautiful seasonal fruit. With the car laden down with all our holiday acquisitions and the fruit haul, we trailed out way home. These black cherries were a bargain we could pass up at just $20 for a huge box. 

We divided our fruit haul with my parents, and I thought I would experiment with cherry jam. Cherries don't set very well in jam, so I got some Chelsea Jam Sugar. It cost a little more but guarantees a great setting jam. It sets strawberry jam really well too.

Central Otago Black Cherry Jam

1 kg Pitted black cherries
1 kg Chelsea Jam sugar
about 4 or 5, depending on the size, jars with lids

It doesn't matter what quantity of cherries you have as the recipe calls for equal quantities of fruit and sugar. I wouldn't make any more than about a kg at a time or it becomes difficult to handle.

Clean and sterilise the jars and lids. The dishwasher is handy for this, or you can wash them in hot soapy water then heat in the oven set at 100deg.C. Have the jars and lids ready to go before you start.

Weigh the cherries once the stones are removed. The stones must be removed before the cooking starts. 

Place the cherry flesh into a food processor and pulse until it is roughly chopped. I did this in a couple of batches. Don't over-process or you will end up with slush.

Place the processed fruit and the sugar into a large heavy bottomed saucepan. Heat gently, stirring constantly until the sugar is all dissolved. 

It might seem like there is not enough liquid in the beginning, but don't worry the mixture will soon start to liquefy. 

Increase the heat and boil rapidly for 4 minutes only. 

It should be boiling rapidly enough that stirring the pot does not stop the boiling. 

Keep a close eye on it so the jam doesn't boil over. Skim and discard any foam that forms on top.

Take the pot from the heat and take a teaspoon of jam and place it onto a cold plate. Place the plate into the fridge or freezer to cool quickly. Test the jam for setting by pushing your finger gently through the jam. If the surface wrinkles the jam is set. 

Using a cup and jug, pour the jam into the prepared jams. Having the jars on a wooden board should prevent any jar breakage caused by differences in the temperature of the jam. Immediately screw the tops on the jars and leave them on the bench to cool completely. Label the jars and store them in a cool dry place.

What a great mid-winter reminder of our summer break. It will be great on toast or croissants, or as a baking ingredient too.

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