In the cookbook Put ‘Em Up that I raffled off last month, there is a recipe for preserved cherries, the intro to which says, “Cherry preserves are to strawberry jam what a red satin gown is to a puffy pink prom dress.” That’s for sure. Only the author forgot to mention the red lipstick. Lipstick and cleavage. This, my friends, is the Christina Hendricks of jams.
If you’ve never cooked with sour cherries (and I hadn’t until this year), let’s just say that there’s a reason why everybody swoons over them. Under no circumstances should you EVER pass them up. And I know it’s cruel to mention sour cherries when their season is past, but now you have a whole year to nail down a local source and mark your calendars for late June/early July so you don’t miss their fleeting window. Then you should set some of them aside to make this:
Classic Cherry Preserves
Original recipe was doubled. I should have stuck with the original recipe.1½ lbs. sour cherries (sometimes labeled tart cherries)
½ cup sugar
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
Stem and pit the cherries (they're so juicy you can just cut them in half and flick out the pit with the tip of a paring knife, no pitter required). Combine the cherries with a splash of water in a medium nonreactive saucepan. Bring to a boil, mashing with a potato masher to release the juice. Add the sugar and lemon juice and stir to dissolve. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the preserves reach the desired thickness, 15 to 20 minutes (stick a jam-coated spoon in the freezer for a minute to see if it gels). Remove from heat and let rest for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Ladle into clean jars. Cool, cover, label, and refrigerate for up to a month. (Or, for longer lasting storage, can them using the boiling water method for 10 minutes). Now just try to keep your hands off them!
Source: Adapted from Put ‘Em Up by Sherri Brooks Vinton.