Cherry cupcakes? Check. Cherry ice cream? Check. What about cherry jam? A few people I talked to said I couldn’t make jam with Bing cherries, insisting that sour cherries must be used. I disagree! If you don’t have access to sour cherries, don’t let that stop you from making some delicious homemade cherry jam. The lemon helps brighten this jam up and the cherry flavor is wonderful.
*5 1/2 cups of pitted, fresh Bing cherries
3 cups white sugar
3 tbs lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon zest
**1 1/2 boxes of Pectin
8 8 oz jars with lids and rings
*If you use sour cherries increase sugar to 4.5 cups
**Use the no-sugar added kind regardless of whether or not you add sugar
1. Prepare your jars and lids. If you are able to plan ahead, use the dishwasher to sanitize your jars and time it so that they are still hot and drying by the time you are ready to fill them. If the dishwasher isn’t an option, wash the jars in soapy water, rinse thoroughly, and place in a large pot of boiling water. Let them boil for about 5 minutes then keep them in the hot water (off the heat) until you’re ready to use them. Set your lids in a bowl of boiling water and set them aside. Start your boiling water bath so it’s waiting for you and not the other way around.
2. Mix the Pectin and 1/2 cup of sugar in a small bowl and set aside.
3. Chop cherries but don’t make them too mushy since jam should have chunks of fruit in it. Keep an eye out for pits since the pitter doesn’t catch every pit every time. Place cherries in a large pot with the sugar-pectin mix and bring to a rolling boil. This might take some time! Don’t move on to the next step until you’ve reached a boil that cannot be stirred away.
4. Once the mixture is at a full boil, add the rest of the sugar, lemon juice, and zest. Bring the mixture back to a rolling boil. Boil for 1 minute exactly then remove from heat. Quickly skim the foam away.
5. Take the jars out of the hot water and pat down the insides with a clean cloth or paper towel, removing most of the water. Fill the jars with 1/4 inch room from the top. Wipe any spilled jam off the rim. Shake the water off the lids and place them on the jars, screwing the rings on firmly but not overly tight.
6. Carefully place your jars in the water bath. There should be at least 2 inches of water above the lids. Let it come back to a rolling boil and process for 5 minutes at a low altitude or up to 15 if you’re high up.
7. Remove the jars and set them on a cloth in a draft-free, cozy little space and leave them untouched for 24 hours. Check to make sure the jars are sealed by pressing the center of the lids; if they make a popping sound they haven’t sealed and you’ll have to refrigerate them. Eat within the first 6 months for best flavor.