Did you know that if you aren’t making preserves that will live on a shelf for month – you’re just making jam instead that you’ll stick in your fridge and use in a few days – then making jam is totally easy? We are talking fruit, sugar, saucepan, done.
This is a perfect application for if you ever find yourself with a large amount of fruit that’s not in great shape. For example, a few weeks ago we had sour cherries in our CSA two weeks in a row, and even with something as delicious as sour cherries, it’s still a lot of fruit! And then it started to get old.
Not gross-old or anything. The cherries just weren’t as pretty or firm as they always were. So I decided to make jam. And then I used the jam as filling in some homemade pop tarts.I got the idea from a great Mark Bittman video (definitely a watch, not read, situation – he’s hilarious on camera).
Here’s what you need:
- About a pound of fruit
- Half a cup of sugar
- Lemon juice *
So here’s the one main sort-of issue: the magic polysaccharide that makes fruit thicken when it’s cooked is called pectin. It’s present in cell walls and when you cook cell walls and break them down, the pectin is released. But pectin is not present naturally in all fruits. It’s present in blueberries, for example, but not really in cherries. The way you remedy this is to add citrus juice – citrus fruits are one place you can always count on finding tons of pectin. So with cherries, you should plan on adding a little bit of lemon or orange juice.
After pitting your fruit, put it in a saucepan over medium heat. After it’s been there for a minute or two, add the sugar as well and continue the medium heat. You want the jam to spend 15-20 minutes thickening and breaking down. Use a spatula or spoon to help it along if you like.
You can add spices, too – cinnamon is what MB suggests, or you can add a vanilla bean, or cardamom… the possibilities are endless!
When the jam has been on the stove for 15-20 minutes, pour into a glass container and allow to cool COMPLETELY before putting it in the fridge. Don’t fudge this – glass + big temperature differential = broken glass and no jam.
And enjoy! I think this would probably keep for 1-2 weeks. But it probably won’t last that long. 🙂