Super-easy Cherry Jam

There’s nothing that makes me happier than a non-recipe recipe.  I came upon some lovely organic cherries at an outdoor market and wanted to make some tasty jams, but my trusty jam-making cookbooks didn’t offer anything I could make quickly. (Although there was a way-cool recipe in my pickling book about how to pickle sweet cherries and then use the vinegar for salads, which I fully plan to try out.)

Much to my happy surprise, a simple google search helped me find this ridonkulously easy “No Recipe Cherry Jam” from pastry chef David Lebovitz. Fabulous!

Step One: Clean and pit all of your cherries. It doesn’t matter how many. Just go for it. (Note: this step is probably going to be more time-consuming than all of the rest of the steps. It’s certainly the messiest part.)

Step Two: Put those cherries in a pot, with the juices, too, and bring it to a boil. Then turn down the heat and let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cherries are nice and soft.

Step Three: Measure how much cooked cherries are in the pot, and then add 3/4 of that amount of sugar. For example, if you have four cups of cooked cherry goo, then add three cups of sugar. Put the pot back on the stove and let it cook some more at a soft boil. Stir often. If you want to add extra flavorings (like a vanilla bean or some other spice), add them at this point.

Luckily for me, I had enough cooked cherry goo that I could make a batch of cherry jam and cherry vanilla jam. 🙂

Step Four: When the jam passes the frozen plate test, it’s ready for canning. Ladle the jam into hot, sterilized mason jars and process for 15 minutes in a hot water bath. Four cups of cherry goo, plus sugar, yields about four or five 8-oz jars of jam.

Enhance the flavors of summer with roasting

Since the invention of fire, humans have noticed that in addition to providing light and warmth, fire and heat makes our food tasty. Roasting isn’t just for meat, though. Next time you find a delicious bunch of plum tomatoes in the farmer’s market, or if you want to give your next fruity jam a kick, try roasting the fruits first.

I set out to make a batch of cherry-berry-jalapeno jam, using ripe strawberries and cherries and a few whole jalapeno peppers, and roasted all of the fruits and peppers first. It adds a whole new and different depth of flavor!

Roasted Cherry-Berry-Jalapeno Jam

This recipe is also good with fresh and unroasted fruits and peppers, and can be adapted to use up whatever you have on hand. Maybe use ancho chiles and blueberries … Habaneros and raspberries …

  • 1 pint berries of any kind (I used strawberries and cherries)
  • 5-6 jalapenos (remove or keep the seeds and ribs according to your taste; remember seeds=spice)
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 3 tbsp. balsamic and/or cider vinegar (balsamic will bring out the berry flavor more, cider will enhance the spiciness of the pepper)
  • 2 tbsp. vodka (optional)

Remove pits or stems from the fruit, and place in a single layer on a roasting pan with other berries and peppers. Coat with 1 cup of sugar and vinegar, and roast at 400 degrees or until the berries and peppers are soft and slightly charred.* Remove from the oven and put into a pot with remaining sugar on high heat, mashing the berries and peppers together. Add vodka if desired. Bring to a rolling boil until the mixture gels. Ladle immediately into hot jars and boil to seal in a water bath for 15 minutes.

This jam has a definite kick to it, but it’s worth it!!

* I should point out here that the act of “roasting” for the purposes of these recipes can be everything from fire-roasting these fruits over a charcoal or propane flame, cooking under high heat in your broiler, or even just baking in a convection oven at 400 degrees or more. All of them produce delicious results.

This time of year is ideal for procuring delicious, fresh and juicy tomatoes almost everywhere. I managed to score some gorgeous plum tomatoes and wanted to try my hand at my own pomodori al forno (after the one I enjoyed so much from the food swap). I roasted them with garlic, basil and olive oil and canned them for later.

Pomodori al forno

This is an excellent addition to casseroles and other dishes, but probably best enjoyed warm with a hunk of crusty bread and a tangy goat cheese.

  • 1 pint plum or other small tomatoes (the very small ones don’t need to be sliced)
  • 1/2-cup (approx) olive oil
  • a handful of fresh basil leaves, chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, minced
  • salt and pepper

Place tomatoes in a single layer in a roasting pan. Coat with oil and sprinkle basil, garlic and spices over the tomatoes. Roast for 45 mins- 1 hour, or until tomatoes are slightly charred and have burst if they are whole. Use immediately, or if you are canning them, use a pressure canner. 1 small green basket from the farmers market of tomatoes yields about 2 pints of finished product.

These are  excellent!