10-Minute Sour Cherry Bam!

You would think I would learn. (You would be wrong.) After my last run-in with shriveled fingertip sour cherries, I decided to make another attempt at cherry jam, this time just a straight-up sour cherry (a little bit of lemon, a little bit of sugar) and a minimal maceration, overnight, banking on the fact that it was the week-long maceration that caused the color-leach in my last sour cherry preserving attempt. Well, don’t take that piece of preserving wisdom to the bank, folks: the overnight maceration caused the same color-leach, the same shriveled fingertips. Seeing as I was still not thrilled with the idea of shriveled fingertip jam, I popped the whole batch into the food processor, gave it a whirl to even out the color, and scraped it into a preserving pan. And you know what? Ten minutes later I had nearly a pint of toothsome, tangy, buttery, jammy, sour cherry bam! in the fridge.

A lot of pectin must have been released by the whirl in the Cuisinart: this jam set up more quickly than any I’ve ever cooked. I’m quite serious when I say in under 10 minutes it was cooked, jarred and I was moving on to the next preserving project. It was also a very small batch in a very wide pan: but I do think that the processing lent something quite unique to this preserve. It’s not quite a jam: it’s got a thick, firm texture out of the fridge, like a hard-set jelly, but it’s not smooth like a jelly, with lumps & bumps like a jam, and once it warms to room temperature it is spreadable and smooth, with a hint of a fruit butter texture. Hence the name: butter + jam = bam!  Or maybe it just seemed like a bam to me because it cooked up so quickly: before I knew it, it was done (I actually probabaly overcooked it a bit, because I couldn’t believe it was set already). The flavor profile is very pure, as this did not need a lot of sugar to set up (bear in mind that my sour cherries were pretty underripe when I picked them, and underripe fruit contains more pectin) and I still cannot get over how quickly it came together. I do enjoy digging my teeth into a big, complex preserving project: but sometimes it’s 92 degrees in the kitchen; or you have friends coming for the weekend; or the weeds are overtaking the garden; or you simply want to get back to the couch and your popsicles. When life gets in the way, sour cherry bam! comes to the rescue: you really can have your bam and eat it too.

p.s. You would think, given the fact that I write a blog about eating locally and seasonally, that I would manage to get posts up while the fruit in question is still in season. (You would be wrong.) So for those of you in Newfoundland – here’s a seasonal recipe! For the rest of you, file this away ’til next year. I’m off to try to get my blueberry crumble recipe written before blueberry season passes us by….

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10-Minute* Sour Cherry Bam!

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 lbs sour cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted (save the pits for Julia’s cherry-pit-infused booze!)
  • 1 cup sugar (organic evaporated cane juice)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • pinch sea salt

*OK, so it doesn’t really take 10 minutes because you need to stem & pit the cherries. But, for only 2 lbs, that doesn’t take me more than 15 minutes or so and the rest is a breeze. And you can break it up into two sessions, with an overnight maceration in between, to maximize garden/couch/popsicle time.

METHODS

  1. Combine cherries, sugar, lemon juice and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Alternatively, do what I did: combine ingredients in a glass bowl, stir, then macerate for one or more days, refrigerated, until you are ready to cook the jam. Process until cherries are well broken-down, about 1 minute. Transfer mixture to a wide-bottomed pot or skillet (I used a 14-inch wide, 6 and 3/4 quart Le Creuset Dutch oven).
  2. Bring to a boil over high heat. Boil hard, stirring only to prevent sticking, until mixture darkens, juice thickens to a syrupy texture, and scraping a spatula across the bottom of the pot leaves a visible stripe (or to 220 degrees F), about 10 minutes. Remove from heat, transfer to a clean jar and store refrigerated.

Yields about 1 and 1/2 cups.

OPTIONS

  1. This small-batch, ninja-style preserving method works with a number of summer fruits: the key is to keep it small, lightly sweeten, and to break up the fruit in the food processor or with a potato masher. A wide pot or skillet is essential to cook the jam quickly and to minimize caramelization of the fruit.
  2. Iit would be easy to substitute honey, maple syrup or another local sweetener for the sugar, however these will contribute a flavor other than cherry to the finished preserve and will result in a looser set, more like a compote.
  3. You could certainly use the juice and zest from one small lemon (I was lazy here and used bottled); juice from one lemon is usually about 1/4 cup, or 4 tbsp, so this would make the resulting bam a bit more lemony and acidic.

STORE

Refrigerated for 1 month or more. This recipe can also be canned in a boiling water bath, in jars filled to 1/2-inch, and stored in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.

SEASON

Early summer.

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6 comments

  1. Actually, I’ve been out picking cherries just this week with more to do so your timing is PERFECT! Idaho is its own planet and time is just different here. :) Now I know what I’ll be making tomorrow…

  2. Pingback: Things I Fancy: August 10 | Kiffanie Stahle Photography

  3. Pingback: Sungold Thyme Bam « Snowflake Kitchen

  4. Pingback: Seasonal Recipe Roundup: Cherries! | SLUGS

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