10 June 2014

Photographer in the Kitchen: Making Cherry Jam

Each summer, when I was a kid, I used to spend in our summer house. We had a small garden tended by my grandfather and, of course, apart from eating fresh produce each summer, I was helping with the preserves, as much as a kid can help.

I look back to these moments with joy and love because they carry with them the feeling of unity with my family - unconscious but strong, the smell of burning wood on a long summer evening, the sight of vegetables and fruits cut in precise pieces, clean glass jars waiting to be filled up.

I considered this summer ritual as one of the things I had to do, not a chore by any means but something as fun as playing. At that time I didn't have a camera but my memories are so vivid that I still see my grandparents around the working table.

Freshly picked cherries by Kanelstrand
I picked about 5 kg of cherries yesterday, and here it is -- the right moment for my first ever cherry jam.

Cherry Jam Recipe
  • 1 kg cherries
  • 1/2 kg sugar + some vanilla
  • 1,5 teaspoon citric acid per kg fruit
  • glass jars - clean, dry and warm (I warm my up in the oven)

My grandmother used to add 1 kg of sugar to each kg of cherries but I am tweaking this recipe a bit and adding less sugar, so the taste of the cherries comes up and the jam is lighter on sugar.

It took me about 3 hours to de-stone the cherries last night and afterwards I covered them in white crystal sugar to which I added some vanilla. I left them overnight and in the morning I put them in a deep pot and let them boil. The sugar had made the juices of the cherries come out, which is vital for the boiling afterwards.

Photographer in the Kitchen: Making Cherry Jam

After the initial boil the cherries start producing a kind of thick foam which I am skimming with a slotted spoon.

Making a cherry jam - skim the foam
Here I have photographed the layers of foam I have skimmed from the boiling cherries so far. Notice the way the colors are changing and flowing into one another.

And now, the jam is 2 hours in the boiling and reducing. The smell is gorgeous and I am excited.

I will keep on boiling on low heat until a drop of jam falls comfortably to the bottom of a glass of water retaining its shape. Then, I will add 1,5 teaspoons of citric acid to each kilogram of cherries (in my case, it's 1,5 x 5 = 7,5 teaspoons).

By the way, I have a habit of reusing the jars I buy from the grocery store, so I have a bunch of different ones waiting to be filled. I will pop them in the oven for 15 minutes to warm them up before filling. Afterwards, I will spoon the warm jam in and let them cool turned on their caps to make a good vacuum.

Question: Should I add orange juice to enhance the flavor? Let me know quick before I'm done with this first batch of cherry jam ever.