Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Home-grown, Homemade Cherry Jam

Cherries on a branch
Viking Man has a cherry tree in his garden. Every summer it's quite a hassle to sweep up all the fallen cherries and leaves from this tree, and don't be fooled by its appearance. Its bright red colour doesn't mean it's as sweet as they come in cake shops; this tree produces the sourest cherries I've ever tasted. I had also missed its cherry blossoms too, during spring because I was busy with Eurovision Song Contest preparations....

However there's a blessing in disguise!

Sour cherries make good jam :) this is according to Mr David Lebovitz, whom I found while "ecosia-ing" for a cherry jam recipe.

Close-up of cherries
So I risked my life for Viking Man and his mum, while I teetered at the top of a 4.5m tall ladder plucking cherries off the tree. It became my instant pastime though, as it's quite fun to pluck off nice juicy ripe cherries off the branches. I regretted coming down afterwards...
Cherries in a bowl
VM's mum insists that this photo should be taken with beauty, so I placed it on a nice flower seat cushion and added the nearest pot of flowers I could find.

Three bowls of cherries (almost 3 kgs)

I was so engrossed in picking cherries that we almost ran out of containers to put them in. Viking Man had to lure me down the tree with the tempting cuteness of his neighbour's new puppy (I'll post some pictures soon :)  )

Lemon peel and juice to make cherry jam
After I ecosia-ed for the "no-recipe cherry jam", I was so pleased that only simple ingredients are needed. I learnt that you need pectin for a jam, and 30% pectin is found in lemon peel. So I eagerly bought a lemon and chopped it up the next day.

Chopped lemon peel
The "no-recipe" asked for lemon zest, but VM insists that non-organic lemon zest is dangerous and highly harmful to the body with chemicals and wax, so I had to remove the zest and use the inner white part of the peel instead. I also used my garlic "roller" to chop up my peel.

Lemon peel in roller
First I chopped lemon peel into smaller pieces and put them into the roller. Of course you can chop the peel smaller manually if you wish.

Rolling lemon peel to pieces
After closing the top cover, I rolled the wheels on a dry surface to cut up the peel. 
You can play cars on the side too. Vrrrrrrrooom.....

Chopped lemon peel

When all is done, I open the lower "door" to take out the blades (which are connected to the wheels), then I use a small fork to dig out the peel.

 Repeat until 3/4 of lemon peel is used. I used the juice of 1 lemon, and 3/4 of its peel. You may use as much as 2 lemons too. Lemon peels add a crunch to the jam.

De-pitted and chopped cherries with lemon peel
I had to de-pit the cherry stones manually with a small knife, and I suddenly fancied myself as a murderer trying to remove flesh from bones. DON'T ask me why. Always wear red. The blood, I mean the cherry juice splashes onto your blouse and turns purple. Your hands get all bloody. Be sure to warn your neighbours and family that it's just cherry juice, not what they think it is. Get some music playing in the background or switch on the TV before you start. It's going to be a long process. But enlightening. So don't be discouraged!

Didn't take photos, because I didn't want my camera to be bloodied.

Cooking cherries
Be sure to de-pit cherries into a pot. No water needed to cook, the cherry juice cooks the cherries. I left half the cherries in halves, and the other half in quarters when I de-pitted them. I added sugar (about half of what Mr David Lebonvitz recommended), lemon juice, lemon peel and half cup of Peach tree liquor. Maybe I added a little too much alcohol, but I told you I was insecure...
Jellyish cherry
Some people say it takes only 20 minutes to cook this. I took 40 min. My cherries took long to dry up...Cooked on high heat for 5 minutes, then on medium high heat for 35 minutes (for me). but I was also very insecure, so I stopped to test its consistency often so that it's not overcooked.

Cherry jam in jar
I was proud of myself when it's done!

My home-made cherry jam :)
Be sure to reuse an empty jar for this. I had two jars on standby, just in case. That half pot of cherries boiled down to just 3/4 of a jar.

I labelled my very first jar of home-grown, homemade cherry jam proudly and declared nothing is impossible in this world! haha...

Try making it too :)

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