Comfort Food · Food · Fruit · Recipe · Sides · Vegetarian

The happy tedium of cherry jam.

I’m feeling a bit better this week—not better as in I can spend more time off the couch than on it better, or my life is going back to normal and I can sleep a whole 8 hours without being awakened by shudders of pain in my back and hips better, or even I no longer feel like I’ve gone bonkers better, but by now, I ain’t asking for much; and feeling as if there may be a teensy blip of light at the end of the tunnel is seriously uplifting. Almost as uplifting, I must add, as all your comments have been—I loved everyone’s caring words.

They helped me calm down, helped me realize that it will get better—if not physically (though that’s the hope, dammit!) then mentally. Everything that was happening was too much for me to see through—I couldn’t fathom ever getting better, or being happy again. You guys helped me realize that it was stupid ol’ depression talking, that I hadn’t gone totally nuts. Honestly, I started to feel better as soon as I published that post… and each comment that came in made me feel even better.

I realize now that it’s going to be an uphill climb. I’m not just going to one day wake up and feel 100 percent (though I’m not ruling out that possibility), but that gradually I’ll get better. I may not be able to go dancing anytime soon, but that’s okay. I’ve started to get the whole it’s been six months already so what the hell’s up thought out of my head, replacing it with a it’s been six months, that sucks, but let’s do something to get my mind off it kind of thinking. I’m no longer upset about not being able to cook elaborate meals or lavish desserts, spending hours in the kitchen. I’ve given up on that for a bit. I also gave up on my apartment patio gardening—opting to buy pre-potted plants that are, in truth, better looking than the ones I grew last year. I made food processor bread that didn’t need one knead. And I started taking pleasure in the slow, tedious cooking that you can do while sitting down.

There’s a happy tedium in pitting three pounds of cherries. And I’m grateful for that.

Cherry Jam

This is my recipe for one pound of cherries—since cherries are so expensive I never make much of the jam in fear that I won’t eat it all throughout the year. Surely though, double or triple if you want. Make sure to buy a little over the weight of cherries you want to use, to make up for any bruised fruit that you may find in the bag.

Also, I halve the cherries with a sharp paring knife and then pull out the pit—I’ve always heard that you should put pressure on the cherry with the flat side of a big knife and that it will conveniently split open and dislodge the pit. I find that technique too messy so unless you are bent on having plump whole cherries in your jam, cutting in half with a knife is fine.

  • 1 pound cherries, halved and pitted
  • the juice and zest of one lime
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1/2 cup water, optional
  • 2/3 cup sugar

Put a small plate in the freezer.

Heat cherries in a 2 quart pot over medium heat. Add the lime and almond extract. Bring to a boil and then cook until cherries are tender, maybe 15-20 minutes. If not much juice has come out, add some water, up to 1/2 cup.

Add the sugar and stir for a few minutes. Test the jam by taking the pot off the heat and putting a bit of it on the plate from the freezer. Put it back in the freezer for a couple minutes, then take out and nudge the jam with your finger. If it wrinkled up a bit, or if it hardly moves when you tilt the plate sideways, your jam is done. If not, put the pot back on the heat and cook some more before testing again. Cherry jam sets easily, so you’ll probably only have to test it once or twice.

Pour the jam in sterilized mason jars with new dome lids and screw bands (leaving 1/4 inch of headspace) if canning, or in whatever container you like if you plan to eat the jam in the next few weeks.

If canning, screw on the lids and heat another pot full of water until boiling. Add the jars to the pot carefully and boil for 10 minutes. Remove jars–carefully–and place on a towel. The jars should make a popping noise soon, telling you they are properly sterilized. When you push down on the lid of a sterilized jar, it will not make a clicking noise. Store in a cool dark place and consume within one year.

Fills about 3 4 oz. jars.

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33 thoughts on “The happy tedium of cherry jam.

  1. Ohhh, I want to make cherry jam too!!! The girls would love it!

    So glad you are starting to feel better. Everyday will start to seem a little brighter! You’ll see…

  2. I am so glad that you are feeling a little lighter. It sucks when the months keep passing and you feel like nothing is happening, but seriously, there is no rush. Before you know it, you will be out there on that dance floor, making a round or two! I guarantee it. In the mean time, grab some tea and slather this simple jam you’ve made on to some crusty sourdough bread. Cuz that is exactly what I am going to do 🙂

  3. Welcome back. I made your quesadillas the other night and they were a big hit with the family (even the nearly 3-year old twins!) Keep up the great work!

  4. glad to hear you were doing better! and darn it! i was hoping you were coming to Trinity Restaurant Saturday for swing dancing, lol! when you feel better 🙂

  5. It’s nice to catch a happier tone in your posts. Sometimes the only thing you can do when dealing with crippling depression is to remind yourself that nothing lasts forever.

    I love the idea of cherry jam, but when I get cherries I tend to just stuff them in my mouth so much there is never any left over for something special. I am thinking of making the plunge with a large quantity this summer and drying them. We love dried cherries in this house.

  6. Glad to hear you’re starting down the road to recovery.

    Love, love, love your photos! Where are you finding cherries so early? All we’ve got at our greenmarket is strawberries and rhubarb so far!

  7. Nice masthead and design… good stuff. If only i was fluent in my movable type 😦 Everyone around me is switching to WordPress.. 🙂 Cherry jam is seriously one of my all time favorite things. Like I can’t even tell you how much I love it. I could probably eat that jar in one sitting. That’s how much I love it. I like that you omit pectin too – my grandmothers are horrified by the idea of putting pectin into jams 🙂

  8. I am so excited by this post. let me try to calm down to write this comment. Your jam looks amazing! Those are some mighty sexy cherries! Gorgeous photographs. You really captured how absolutely delicious this jam must be. I’m also glad to hear that you have a slightly different outlook on your circumstance. You’re so open and honest. I can’t tell you how much it touches me. You’ll emerge from this fog a better woman. Hang in there, and eat lots of jam!

  9. Oh hon – I am so sorry that you are feeling this way… stay in the kitchen and keep doing things each day that make you realize the sun will shine again.
    Thinking of you!

  10. Ooo jam. Very nice.

    Things might not be BETTER better, but it is good to see a post and to see you saying that your head feels just a bit clearer. Every step is something.

    The tedium… you know, I think doing stuff that is repetitive with your hands is so meditative (I see Heather said something similar). I imagine you pitting all these cherries being just that kind of thing. I hope so.

    *A million hugs*

  11. Hi, your blog is nice…I like your blog…
    Wanna exchange link? My blog is about soup recipe, please leave me a msg if you want exchange link with me. Thank you.

  12. Hi Robin!
    Thanks for visting my blog and leaving such a nice comment.
    I can see you’re feeling better now and I suspect this wonderful cherry jam had something to do with that :). Since I was born in the beginning of cherry season I’m totally in love with them. You photos as SO stylish! The jar shot is my favourite.
    Nice to meet you Robin! I’ll be adding you to my blog roll to make sure I won’t miss any recipes 🙂

  13. Robin,

    Keep on keepin’ on! Ya heard me?!

    I now know what I am going to do with those (expensive) cherries I have in the fridge.

    Thanks for an easy application.

    You keep it up. I have my eyes on you! /-)

  14. Robin- it’s amazing how something as simple as pitting 3 lbs of cherries & being grateful for them can be good for you.
    I love cherries but never had cherry jam, thanks for the recipe adding this to my to do list. Your photos are exquisite btw, I love the simplicity of them. You are very talented.

  15. Robin, I made your jam this morning and what a happy feeling it gave me. It’s delicious, thank you so much for sharing it with all of us.

  16. oh i saw you on adoptic… this looks delicious! i’ve been thinking of doing cherry rhubarb jam for awhile… now i’m inspired to follow though 🙂

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