Wow. Do we acknowledge the elephant in the room which is pointing judgey fingers at me for not posting in so long? No. Probably best not to and just move along like there is nothing to see here…
Anyhoo. Whilst shopping at Costco a few weeks ago I noticed a great deal on a 3 pound container of cherries. I love me some cherries. A lot. To the point where I actually have to count out how many I am allowed to eat in a single sitting lest I make myself super sick. Throughout the week I ate about a pound (don’t you dare judge me) and the last 2 were just dying to be made into jam.
And do you know how easy it is to make cherry jam? Stupidly easy. As in, no Sure Gel or pectin of any kind needed. Just some pitted cherries, sugar, a squeeze of lemon juice and some time.
- Half 2 – 2 1/2 pounds of cherries and remove the pits (Or get smart when you buy the next batch of 6 pounds and invest in a cherry pitter. That thing is life changing) and add to your favorite pan or dutch oven.
- Add 2 1/2 cups of sugar and 2 good squirts of lemon juice to the pan, and simmer while stirring occasionally for about 20 minutes
Note on simmering time: depending on the water content of the cherries and the viscosity you like your jam, this may take longer. My 6 pound cherry batch took about an hour and a half – no joke – because they were super fresh and I like a thicker jam.
When your cherries have cooked down to a consistency you like (think about the juice in between) you have a choice: leave the cherries chunky or zip the mixture with an immersion blender. I do the latter, but don’t smooth the whole batch. I like a surprise cherry chunk here or there, but not a whole jar full. (And of course if you go the immersion blender route, please, BE CAREFUL. That shit is hot. Like, nearing magma levels of hot and we don’t need any burns from splattering cherries. It’s just not really a good story.)
After you have your cherry jam cooked, zipped and finished, you’re ready to water bath! Now of course you could eat this right away, but I prefer to preserve it in the cupboard, so into a 10 minute water bath it went, complete with all the safety protocols for canning blah blah and blah.
See how easy it is? And now you have homemade cherry jam to crack open when the wind is howling and you don’t want to leave your house for comfort food in a few months. Thinking ahead is so smart.
I have been on a Great British Bake Off bender for weeks now and can’t stop talking about it and wishing I were adorable and British and lived in a land where tea and cakes all the time is totally acceptable. Despite the fact that I live in Alaska and not the land of shires and queens, that hasn’t stopped me from going on my own baking bender. Last week I made a few batches of scones, and this week I am trying my hand at the fabled Victoria Sponge. This is the easiest dessert in the GBBO repertoire, but one feels so accomplished making it.
- Cream 1 cup room temperature butter in your stand mixer. Once light and fluffy, slowly add 1 cup sugar until incorporated.
- Beat 4 room temperature eggs one at a time into the mixture until incorporated (the room temp thing is key – cold eggs will harden your butter and it turns into a mess. So, trust me on this one.)
- Sift 2 cups flour and 2 teaspoons baking soda into a bowl.
- Slowly fold flour mixture into fluffy egg/butter/sugar mixture.
- Add to 2 greased 8 inch round pans.
- Bake 25-30 minutes at 325* – cake is done when it comes away from the sides of the pan or tester comes out clean
When your cake is cool, whip up a batch of homemade whipped cream, slather some jam or fresh fruit inside and layer your two cakes like a giant sweet sandwich full of delicious. Now, brew some tea, don a giant hat, and talk smart about cool things like cricket and the queen mum.
Biscuits with dinner were a big thing at my house, and that meant that we got to scoop up lots of my mother’s famous strawberry freezer jam. It was always a hit at bake sales, and my cousin has been known to eat it straight from the jar. I have always been desperate to have a supply on hand….
I recall the year that for whatever reason mom hadn’t planned to make a new batch…she claimed we had missed strawberry season and would have to wait until next year. My heart was broken. Now, I’m not sure if that was an excuse to not have to process the berries, or if there really was a shortage, but I managed to drag home a massive overflowing flat of berries which I scored for $2 at the Springville Market. I saved the day! Of course we don’t need to discuss that the berries were on the edge and needed to be made that night and my poor mother did all the work herself…I just knew I was going to have jam.
I lost the last of my stash of my own freezer jam to the fire last year, and finally just now replenished my stock. It’s the easiest thing in the world to make (follow the directions on the box of Sure Jel) and outrageously delicious to eat. And lucky for me, the husband isn’t a big jam eater…I don’t have to share! I get the same rave reviews my mother does (I’m so modest), and plan to keep the tradition alive. But for now I’m off to stuff my face with fresh jam and freshly baked bread… *swoon*