A delicious black cherry jam recipe using the conserve method; steeping the fruit in a sugar syrup before cooking, results in a jam bursting with flavour. No pectin.
I find immense satisfaction in a bubbling preserving pan full of fruity goodness; making jams, chutneys or any other preserve is one of my favourite ways of spending an afternoon in the kitchen, and this recipe for a black cherry jam using the conserve method is perfect for these fruity treats of high summer.
I do love cherries, but they are a feast or famine fruit; the British cherry season is short, and so to make best use of the delicious fruit when they are available, we use them in all sorts of way: from eating the fresh fruit to including them in cakes as well as this recipe for jam, which means we can enjoy the flavour through the rest of the year.
I define the difference between a jam and a conserve as being that for a jam, the fruit is sliced, then cooked before the sugar is added. In a conserve, whole fruit is steeped in a sugar syrup to draw out the juice, and the resulting mixture is then simmered to set. I love the way this conserve has whole cherries in it, really emphasizing the natural fruit flavour and texture. Perfect with toast, and even better on top of a fresh, warm homemade scone.
The starting point for the recipe is to stone the fruit; the easiest way by far to do this is with a cherry stoner. We found that by catching the stone in your hands from each fruit, you make sure that the end result won’t hide any stones. It is undeniably messy but it’s far the best way of making sure that the final result won’t be a danger to your teeth.
Once the fruit have been stones, cut a couple of cups’ worth – about a third of the fruit- into quarters. Add the sugar and lemon juice to all the fruit, and leave the mixture to macerate for an hours. The sugar draws the juice out of the fruit, which means that the end result is really delicious and fruity, and not diluted by the addition of any water. After an hours the fruit will look like this:
Then it’s time to cook. Get prepared by placing washed jars in the oven to sterilize; set it to 120°C or gas mark 1. Boil the cherry jam mixture until it reaches 105°C/221°F – the setting point. The other way of testing is the traditional method of seeing if it sets when spooned onto a plate chilled in the freezer. Testing a jam to see if it’s set is always a slightly nerve-wracking process for the novice jam maker; I prefer to err on the side of runny rather than rubbery and over set.
Once set, transfer the jam to the hot jars taken from the oven – a jam funnel is a huge help her in avoiding any more mess. Screw the lids on, taking care with the hot jars not to burn yourself. As they cool, you’ll hear the lids pop as the vacuum forms. It’s always a satisfying noise after a day with the preserving pan!
A delicious easy cherry jam made using the conserve method, so preserving the fruit in its whole form. No need to use jam sugar with added pectin - just add a little lemon juice to help the fruit set.
- 1200 g Stoned cherries (6 cups)
- 1000 g Sugar (5 cups)
- 2 tbs Lemon juice
Stone the cherries. This is best done with a cherry stoner. Make sure the stone is removed from each fruit.
One third of the fruit - about two cups into quarters
Put in a bowl cover with sugar add lemon juice. Stir. Cover and leave.
Cook at a rolling boil until setting point of 105c. Or test by placing a teaspoon onto a frozen plate. If it sets, the jam is ready to be transferred to sterilized jars.