What do you do when your friend gives you a 20 litre bucket full of cherries of various grades for free?
Well you spend an hour sorting through them, keeping the split ones for jam, and the good ones for eating. Unfortunately, all of the rotten ones, which was about a quarter of the bucket, went in the compost bin and some for the chickens. Such a shame but I didn't hear a single chook complaining!
So on to the jam making. Here is about 1.5kg of cherries that were water damaged, with just splits in them that had not turned rotten yet. They still tasted very nice.
So here was my little system to pit them. One small bowl for the pits and stems, One medium bowl for the halves and a very sharp little knife. I have since discovered the joy of a cherry pitting tool that makes this task so much easier. Don't forget to wear an apron, as the juice stains your clothing quite well.
So here is the recipe and method which I adopted from the back of the Jamsetta packet:
Gav's Cherry Jam.
1kg washed and pitted cherries
1kg white sugar (warmed)
50 gm packet of Jamsetta (pectin)
4 tablespoons of Lemon Juice
1 quarter cup water
1. Place the cherries in a large saucepan and mash with a potato masher to release the juices. Add the water and lemon juice and cook gently, uncovered until the fruit is soft.
Note: the pan should be large enough so that the fruit and sugar should not occupy greater the 1/3 of the pan's capacity. It increases in volume when it boils.
2. Add the Jamsetta and warmed sugar (place in an oven proof bowl in a oven @150C for 6 minutes), heat gently until dissolved, stirring constantly. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 10 minutes stirring occasionally.
3. To test for a set. Place a saucer in the freezer for 5 minutes, remove. Place a level teaspoon of jam on the saucer and leave for 30 seconds. Run finger through jam and if set, it should crinkle. If not boil for a further 3 minutes and test again. My jam set at 13 minutes boiling.
4. Once gel point is achieved, remove jam from heat and stand for 10 minutes. Pour into sterilised, warm, dry jars and seal.
And there you go. 4 jars of the best cherry jam I ever did taste. I didn't skim the pink fluffy stuff from the jam as I liked the taste of it. I had some on my toast for breakfast and it was to die for. Even my wife Kim agreed that it was the best jam I have ever made. I think I will give up using the bread-maker for jam, as you have far more control over the gel point doing it the real way. A far superior jam and flavour.
What are your favourite jams and jellies?