Morello Cherry Jam

Morello Cherry Jam
Recipe adapted from Certo (PDF) and Gourmet, July 2001
Notes: I've never tried making jam before for one simple reason: I didn't want anyone to die from poisoning. After making a batch of strawberry jam with Dr. S, and seeing how easy it was and how there were many precautions, I decided to try it for myself. Last week, a vendor at the Square One Farmer's Market was selling Morello cherries (dark red exterior, dark red interior), a sour variety not often found here. He told me that they are quite different in flavour than the more common Montmorency variety (bright red exterior, brownish interior) and that many European immigrants often turn them into jam.

The Gourmet recipe intrigued me because it called for using the almond-scented kernels from inside the cherry pits. After a futile and dangerous effort trying to crack and split the kernels, I gave up and used a few tablespoons of bitter apricot kernels instead. For my first canning project, I followed the directions that came with the regular pectin box. I macerated the fruit with 1 cup of the sugar and the apricot kernels for 8 hours in the fridge before proceeding with the basic Certo recipe.

Unfortunately, I didn't have all the necessary tools to make the canning process easy. Picking up the hot jars with a regular set of scalloped metal tongs was awkward and prone to disaster. Trying to spoon the molten jam. And I also lacked a rack on which to place the jars in my “canner” (just a big 8 quart pot). Of course, I didn't just dive into this experiment: 90 minutes of searching at Square One failed to turn up the necessary equipment.

I stirred and skimmed as directed, and sterilized the jars, seals and lids. My yield was five 250mL jars. After coming out of the canner, the jars popped; after an overnight rest, the seals were tight and the jam set firmly so I was quite pleased. I can't detect any almondy notes in the jam though, but the deep colour and flavour of the cherries are the highlight anyway.