Summer officially starts this weekend, farmers markets are in full swing, and seasonal fruit is plentiful! A couple of weeks ago, we held a hands-on pie and tart class, and I had some leftover cherries. I immediately thought about making a quick summer jam with them!
After doing some research and finding a lot of recipes online, I chose the short and easy version and found a very basic recipe in the New York Times food section. Their recipes are solid so I have been using them a lot for research and inspiration.
You've probably heard the term 'pectin' when relating to jam. But this particular recipe just uses lemon juice and sugar, with no pectin needed. One of the important steps in this recipe is making sure your fruit is coated with sugar, which helps dissolve it. You can use this recipe as the base for any fruit, such as plums, nectarines, peaches, or really any stone fruit that is available at the market. I also used our vanilla bean paste.
This recipe references vanilla beans, but you can also use vanilla bean paste, like the one we carry at The Chopping Block. If you are using vanilla beans, you will have to split the pods open and scrape them, making sure you get all the seeds out. The beauty of vanilla bean paste is that you just add it to the fruit. All the work is already done for you!
When pitting the cherries, make sure to not miss a pit! And if you need a cherry pitter, we have them at our Lincoln Square store.
Stone Fruit Jam
Yields: About 4 cups (4 8-ounce jars)
4 1/2 pounds fresh pitted cherries
2 3/4 cups granulated sugar
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, or lime juice (approximately 2 lemon or limes)
3 Tablespoons vanilla bean paste
- Toss fruit and sugar together in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Let sit for at least 15 minutes or up to overnight, tossing periodically to coat and to dissolve the sugar. (This will help coax the juices out of the fruit.)
- Place a small plate in the refrigerator to chill. (You’ll use this later.)
- Bring the fruit to a strong simmer over medium heat until the skins burst and the juices start to boil, 10 to 15 minutes. If using a vanilla bean as an add-in, put it in the pot now.
- Increase the heat to medium–high. Cook the jam, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon or spatula at first and more frequently as juices thicken until most of the liquid has evaporated and the fruit has begun to break down, about 25 to 35 minutes. How much it breaks down will depend on the type of fruit and how ripe it is. As the jam cooks, the liquid reduces, the sugars thicken and the natural pectin’s activate. You’ll notice the liquid goes from a rapid, rolling boil with smaller bubbles to a slow, thick, tar-like boil with larger bubbles. This is the stage at which it’s most important to stir constantly along the bottom of the pot to prevent scorching and sticking. (Sugar is heavier than water and will concentrate there, increasing the chance that the fruit will burn.) It’s also the stage at which splattering may occur, so take care in stirring.
- When the jam reaches a slow, thick boil, add lemon juice. Continue to cook, stirring constantly until the jam has returned to its previously thickened state, about another 5 minutes. To test the consistency, spoon a bit of jam onto the chilled plate, return it to the refrigerator and chill for 2 minutes. Drag your finger through it: It should hold its shape on either side without appearing watery or runny. If it’s not there yet, cook it a few minutes more.
- Remove from heat, and pick out vanilla beans, if you added them earlier. Divide between jars, leaving 1/4 inch of space at the top of the jar, and seal immediately. Store in the refrigerator, using them up within a couple of weeks.
If you want to learn more around canning and preserving using quick methods, check out our virtual Cook Along: Homemade Refrigerator Jams, Jellies and Pickles Workshop on Saturday, July 3 at 2pm CST.