Canning is basically what cured my last serious depression. It was a point in my life where I wasn’t feeling very creatively inspired and found my job to be seriously under-stimulating. I saw a canning book at a little boutique and picked it up on a whim, but before I knew it I was completely engrossed. Much like baking, it required some creativity, but it was mostly about following a strict process. It was time consuming, rewarding, and just challenging enough to give me some purpose at a period of time in my life where I didn’t have much of a direction.
At that point, I was trying everything from pickles to preserved fruit, but mostly it was jams. Outside of sanitizing and preparing the jars, making jam is actually an incredibly easy process. Off the top of my head, I know I’ve tried strawberry, blueberry, kiwi, and peach, but this was actually my first attempt at a cherry jam. Bing cherries are looking pretty gorgeous this time of the year, and I have to say when you add five cups of sugar (yes, jam has a LOT of sugar) they taste an awful lot like maraschino cherries. I bet this would be pretty delicious used in a dessert like thumb print cookies.
- Approximately 3 pounds of cherries
- 1 lemon
- 1 box of fruit pectin
- 5 cups of sugar
- 1/4 tsp. almond extract
- Wash six eight-ounce canning jars and tops completely with soap and water. Put the jars into a large pot and cover completely with water until there's two inches of water above them. Tuck the circular rims around the jars until they're also fully emerged. Bring to a boil and boil for ten minutes, then remove and drain the jars completely of water. Put on the counter to wait for jam to finish cooking.
- Sanitize the flat tops of the jars by putting them into the hot water for a few minutes, then carefully removing to place on the counter and wait for jam to finish cooking.
- Remove stems and cherry pits. Put cherries into a food processor or blender and chop until mostly ground. Measure exactly four cups into a large pot and add 1/4 of a cup fresh lemon juice
- Stir fruit pectin in with the cherry mixture and turn heat on to high. Stirring constantly, bring mixture to a full rolling boil, then stir in sugar and almond extract. Continuing to stir, bring the mixture back to a full rolling boil again and then let it boil for exactly a minute. Remove the pot from heat and skim off any foam that may be on top of the mixture.
- Ladle the cherry mixture immediately into the clean jars until it reaches 1/4 inch from the top. Wipe the top of the jars and the rims with a hot, wet towel to remove any jam that may have splattered. Cover jars with the two piece lids and gently close with the tips of your fingers, but don't screw bands tightly.
- Put closed jars back into the large pot of hot water, making sure that the water covers the jars by at least one inch. Turn heat onto medium and let water come to a full boil. Boil jars for ten minutes, then turn heat off and let the water cool back down to a tepid temperature.
- Remove jars from pot and place on a counter where they can sit for 24 hours. After a few hours, check to make sure the tops of the jars have decompressed and don't pop when pushed. Any jars that pop should be immediately put in the fridge and eaten soon. Jars that remain sealed after 24 hours should have their lights screwed tightly and will remain good on the shelf for up to a year.
*Recipe from Sure.Jell Kraft recipes. Fills six 8-ounce jars.