Yes. Yes. I know. It’s past cherry season.
By the way, in case you didn’t know when peak season is, it’s summer.
However, if I don’t have any cherry jam left from the summer, or, in this case, I wanted to send some to a few select people for the holidays, I will use frozen cherries. Because, well, they’re available. And, why not?
There are certain frozen fruits that will work just as well as fresh when making jams, preserves, and butters. Peaches, mangos, cherries, and raspberries are a few that spring to mind.
Of course, fresh, ripe, in-season fruits are always best.
But, I wanted to show in this recipe that frozen fruit is an excellent substitute and you can make wonderful jam any time of year.
Now, to the recipe.
Note: If you need a full tutorial on the how’s and why’s of making sweet preserves (jam, jelly, etc.), please read my August 10, 2012, post “Classic Strawberry Jam”.
3 lbs. ripe sweet dark cherries, pitted
3 lbs. frozen sweet dark cherries, thawed, juices reserved
1 ea. 1.75 oz. package “classic” powdered pectin (6 tbsp.) – do not use gel pectin
1 tsp. lemon zest
1/4 c. lemon juice
5 c. sugar
1. If you’re using fresh cherries, stem, pit and, if you like, roughly chop them. If you’re using frozen cherries, pour them into a large colander and set it in a large bowl. Allow the cherries to thaw and let the juices drip into the bowl. Reserve the juices.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the cherries, the reserved juice (if any), pectin, lemon juice, and lemon zest.
Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring frequently.
3. Add the sugar, stirring constantly until it’s dissolved.
4. Turn the heat down to medium low and bring the mixture to a rolling boil. Again, be sure to stir frequently.
Once it’s come to a rolling boil, boil the jam for 1 minute.
5. Remove the saucepan from the heat. If there is any foam on top, take a spoon and skim off as much as possible. (Be careful. The jam is very hot at this point.)
6. Pour the jam into hot, sterilized jars, leaving 1/4″ headspace.
Clean the jar rims, seal, and process for 5 minutes. (Begin timing after the water has come back to a boil.)
7. Once the jars have processed for 5 minutes, turn off the heat under the canner (or very large stockpot), carefully take the jars out of the boiling water, and place them on racks to cool. The jars will seal as they cool. (You’ll hear a “ping” or a “pop” noise as the jars begin to seal. This could take up to 24 hours.)
If the jars seal, the jam will keep approximately one year (recommended). If not, refrigerate the jars and eat the jam within 2 – 3 weeks.
Makes approximately 8 half-pints/16 4-oz jars