Make the most of seasonal cherries with this easy homemade cherry jam recipe. It’s perfect on toasts and makes a great addition in tarts, cakes and lots of other desserts. This jam is made with only a handful of ingredients, and you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to make jam at home!
Ever since my grandmother taught me how to make jams several years ago, it became one of my passions. I don’t know about you, but for me there is something I find incredibly satisfying about making preserves; there’re a lot of things we can’t control in life, but when we make jams, it gives us the ability to take an ingredient that would have otherwise lasted only a few days, and turn it into something that’ll last for 1-2 years – what’s not to love about that?! For me, making jam isn’t just about preserving an ingredient, it’s about preserving the flavours of a season, or the wonderful memories you have of harvesting your fruits on a warm summers’ day.
Cherries are in season now, so they’re abundant in most supermarkets. I couldn’t help but notice a huge tray of the juiciest looking cherries when I visited my local supermarket a few days ago, and in a moment of haste, I bought the whole lot. After about 3 days the cherries were starting to lose their plumpness, so I thought this would be the perfect excuse to make a jar of my favourite jam. Homemade jam is such a wonderful way of preventing food waste, and you can make jam with such a vast variety of different fruits, so the next time you find you have fruits that have past their peak freshness, give them a new lease of life and turn them into jam!
WHY MAKE HOMEMADE JAM
It’s a great way to preserve your favourite summer fruits
Makes the most delicious condiment
Can be use used in lots of dessert recipes
It’s easy to make
Can be more cost effective than shop bought jam
No additives, colours of artificial preservatives
Makes a great homemade gift
HOW TO SERVE CHERRY JAM
Once your jam has set, you can serve it slathered on toast, crumpets, scones or cakes. You can also use jam in lots of delicious dessert recipes. I have a few dessert recipes that use cherry jam, so I’ll be sharing those soon – stay tuned!
CAN YOU USE FROZEN CHERRIES?
As with most homemade jam recipes, you could use frozen cherries, but I find that this usually creates a runnier consistency due to the higher water content. I prefer to make jam using fresh fruits as it tends to create a more viscous and spreadable consistency.
HOW TO PIT CHERRIES
Pitting cherries can be a tedious task, but once you find a method that works for you, it can become quite relaxing. My preferred method for pitting cherries is to use a small knife to cut around half of the cherry, and to twist each half in opposite directions until the halves are separated. I then pick the pit out using my fingers – it sounds harder than it actually is, believe me. Another way to pit cherries is called ‘The Chopstick Method’ – to pit the cherries using this method, hold the fruit between two fingers. Position the thin end of the chopstick into the hole where the cherry stem was, and firmly press the chopstick down into the pit and push it out of the cherry. Another really simple way to pit cherries is to just tear the fruit apart and pick out the pit. Whichever way you choose to pit your cherries, it really doesn’t matter for this recipe as they’ll boil down and lose their shape.
HOW TO STORE HOMEMADE JAM
Once you’ve filled your sterilized jars with the jam, put the sterilized lid on and let it cool down at room temperature. Once the jam has cooled down, store in a cupboard, away from direct sunlight for up to a year. Once the jars have been opened, they can for stored for up to a month in the refrigerator, though I have found that some jams tend to last much longer. My general rule of thumb is: if it isn’t mouldy and blue, then it will do :D
DO I HAVE TO USE STERILIZED JARS?
Absolutely! If you want to give your homemade jam a longer shelf life, then sterilizing your jar is essential as it’ll prevent the formation of mould and bacteria.
HOW TO CHECK IF MY JAM WILL SET?
Generally, homemade cherry jam should set in about 24-48 hours. To check that your jam has enough pectin to set, spread one teaspoon of the cooked cherry jam onto a plate and place in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Take it out of the freezer and run your finger along the jam – if it is slightly firm and it creates a ripple effect, then your jam is ready to set. If you’ve waited for 48 hours and your jam still hasn’t set, then don’t worry as there is a way to fix this. Simply empty the jam back into a pot and heat it up with some more pectin, place back into clean, sterilized jars and try again.
INGREDIENTS AND SUBSITUTES|:
You’ll only need a few basic ingredients to make this cherry jam:
Sour Cherries - fresh and pitted. I'd advise buying good quality, sour cherries for this recipe. You could use frozen cherries, but homemade jam will always turn out better if fresh cherries are used.
Jam Sugar (or regular granulated sugar) - I’ve used jam sugar, which is basically just granulated sugar mixed with pectin. If you’re unable to find jam sugar, you can regular granulated sugar and pectin. The general rule is to add 15g of pectin to every 1kg of cherries. Sugar is crucial in jam to give it it’s sweet, viscous consistency. It also acts as a preservative, helping to deter the growth of bacteria and mould.
Lemon juice - The lemon juice will help the jam to set and will also give a bit of tartness which will help to balance out the sweetness.
Lemon salt - I like my cherry jam to be extra sour, so I always add a bit of lemon salt to it. If you prefer a sweeter jam, then you can omit this ingredient.
HOW TO MAKE CHERRY JAM
Wash and pit all the cherries. My preferred method for pitting cherries is to use a small knife to cut around half of the cherry, and to twist each half in opposite directions until the halves are separated. I then pick out the pit using my fingers.
Place the cherries, lemon juice and lemon salt in a deep pot. Place over a medium heat and let it cook for about 5 minutes, until the cherries start to soften.
Add the sugar and stir frequently with a wooden spoon, until the sugar has dissolved and the fruit has softened completely, for about 10 minutes.
Turn the heat up to high, and allow the jam to bubble and boil, for around 10 more minutes. To check that your jam has enough pectin to set, spread one teaspoon of the cooked cherry jam onto a plate and place in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Take it out of the freezer and run your finger along the jam – if it’s slightly firm and it creates a ripple effect, then your jam is ready. Take the jam off the heat and let it rest for a few minutes.
To sterilize your jar, place it on an oven tray and put it in a preheated oven at 160-180ºC for about 15 mins. To sterilize the jar lid, boil in hot water for about 5 minutes. Ladle the jam into the hot, sterilized jars and place lids on immediately. Allow the jars to cool, then store at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.
TIPS FOR MAKING CHERRY JAM
*Sterilize your jar before poring the jam in - this will give your homemade jam a much longer shelf life.
*If you’ve waited for 48 hours and your jam still hasn’t set, then don’t worry as there is a way to fix this. Simply empty the jam back into a pot at heat it up with some more pectin, place back into clean, sterilized jars and try again.
*To check that your jam has enough pectin to set, spread one teaspoon of the cooked cherry jam onto a plate and place in the freezer for about 5 minutes. Take it out of the freezer and run your finger along the jam – if it’s slightly firm and it creates a ripple effect, then your jam is ready to set.
*Store unopened jars of jams at room temperature, away from direct sunlight.