When I was growing up, we had a big sour cherry tree in our backyard. Actually, I should clarify that. It was in our neighbor’s yard, but most of the branches hung over into our yard. I didn’t appreciate sour cherries then. Every summer I went over to the tree as the cherries were turning blush red and nibbled into one. And every summer I spit it out because it was sooo sour. I opted to walk to my grandpa and grandma’s house and climb up their black cherry tree and enjoy their stash.
Fast forward to today…oh how I wish I had access to fresh sour cherries in my back yard. I love to make a sour cherry jam. It’s actually quite good over vanilla ice cream! We also enjoy it over toasted coconut bread with butter.
Makes 5 half pint jars
6 cups organic sour cherries, pitted and halved
3 cups xylitol (I use powdered to ensure it dissolves)
1-2 cups fruit bodied organic red wine (CORE PLAN ONLY and completely optional! I got this tip from a girlfriend a couple years ago. It adds a third layer of flavor to the jam, makes it extra exciting on the tongue. )
4 organic Granny Smith apples or 6 crabapples, as under-ripe as you can find
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (reserve rinds and pits)
Rinds and pits of 2 lemons
1 large muslin bag or tea strainer
5-6 sanitized half pint jars & lids
1.) Put the sour cherries, lemon juice, xylitol, and optional wine in a large non reactive stock pot. Chop the apples roughly, leaving cores intact. Place the chopped apple and lemon pits in a large muslin bag or giant tea ball (so you can remove from the pot later, after pectin is released). Add to the pot, hooking off to the handle of the pot. Bring mixture to a rolling boil over High heat while stirring and cook for 10 minutes, or until xylitol is completely dissolved. Apple pieces should start to soften a bit, too. Remove from heat, cover and place in the fridge overnight. The pectin will extract more as it sits.
2.) The next day, put pot back over High heat and bring to a full boil. Stir constantly until the jam begins to thicken and set — around 220 degrees F (I use a candy thermometer clipped to the pot to test the jam temperature throughout cooking). Once you reach 218-220 degrees F, it’s time to do the ice cube test. Take a spoonful of jam and hold it over an ice cube until the cube cools the jam. (You can also use a plate pulled from the freezer.) Once jam is cooled down, test its texture on the spoon. If it has gelled to your preference, remove jam from heat, take out the bag of apple/lemon pulp, and begin jarring it. If it’s still too wiggly/watery, boil a few minutes longer and repeat the test until you get the consistency you’d like.
3.) I seal my jars right away. Fill the jars, apply the lids, and place them into a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes. Remove from the water carefully and set on counter to cool. Before dumping out the hot water from the pot, I always check the lids after 15 minutes to make sure they sealed properly. This jam will store on the shelf for up to 5 years.