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Free Fruit Red Cherry Jam

Updated on July 4, 2018
ethel smith profile image

With a keen interest in British politics this writer is never afraid to share her opinion

2017 Was A Bumper Year

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Stewing some cherries 2017The apples were sweet yet sharpMy husband harvesting the cherriesMore applesAnd more cherries
Stewing some cherries 2017
Stewing some cherries 2017
The apples were sweet yet sharp
The apples were sweet yet sharp
My husband harvesting the cherries
My husband harvesting the cherries
More apples
More apples
And more cherries
And more cherries

Grow Your Own

We have only have a small back garden but it packs a punch.

Each year we usually try to grow some produce such as radishes, tomatoes, garlic, lettuce and, or, herbs.

Our garden also has some established strawberry plants and a few fruit trees which were planted a couple of years ago.

The fruit trees are plum, pear, apple and cherry.

2017 was the first year we had a bumper crop of apples and red cherries and we also had a couple of pears worth eating too.

But the problem with the cherries is they are very sharp or even sour depending on your taste preferences.

With 2018 looking set to be another record breaking year for our cherry tree using this ‘free’ fruit efficiently is a must.

So what about red cherry jam or jelly?

Strawberries Are Naturally Sweet But Sour Fruit Sets Better

Making Jam

You basically need:-

  • Suitable fruit
  • A large preserving pan or stockpot
  • Glass jars
  • Jar lids or a set of jam pot covers
  • Sugar
  • For a jelly and some fruits water
  • In some cases pectin or lemon juice
  • Optional - a cooking thermometer
  • Optional - a sieve and or a square sheet of muslin
  • Small saucer for testing the set of the mixture
  • Large wooden spoon for stirring the jam
  • Optional - Large slotted metal spoon
  • Large and medium sized spoons
  • Heatproof jug for filling the jars and a funnel

Pectin

One dictionary definition of pectin is-

A soluble gelatinous polysaccharide which is present in ripe fruits and is used as a setting agent in jams and jellies

Sharp flavoured fruit such as my red cherries and baking apples are full of pectin when they are ripe.

This means any jam, jelly or fruit preserve made from these fruits will set well.

If you are using a fruit low in pectin it will need adding.

Over the counter pectin, in liquid or powder form, is available at a range of outlets including some supermarkets. It is suitable for a vegetarian or even a vegan.

But consider mixing fruits to increase the amount of pectin.

Bramble or blackberry mixed with baking apples gels well as a jam or jelly. It is the addition of the apples that boosts the pectin and the set.

The Glass Jars

You can purchase suitable jars, with or without lids, at a reasonable cost but in these environmentally times it is much better to save used jars.

I tend to wash glass jars and keep them stored away as they have a variety of uses.

So when it comes to making my jam or jelly it is simply a case of selecting the best and most appropriate sized jars.

Make sure you avoid jars with chips or cracks.

My jars originally contained store bought jam, marmalade, pasta sauce and pickles.

Before I packed them into a box all the jars were washed and labels removed. As my image shows they are now very dusty but a hand wash followed by a hot wash in a dishwasher will do the trick.

Make sure you do not use any jars that have a lingering smell of say garlic or pickles.

Having washed my dusty jars in the dishwasher on a hot-cycle they are now good to go.

If you do not have a dishwasher wash the jars by hand in hot soapy water, rinse well and leave stood upside down in an oven set to the lowest temperature when you are making your jam. The jars will then be super-clean and sterilized.

My Glass Jars

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All sparkling cleanBoy were they dusty after some time in the garageSparkling clean after a hot wash in the dishwasher
All sparkling clean
All sparkling clean
Boy were they dusty after some time in the garage
Boy were they dusty after some time in the garage
Sparkling clean after a hot wash in the dishwasher
Sparkling clean after a hot wash in the dishwasher

Lids And Jam Pot Covers

By and large I have not kept any jar lids. When making jam you need a tight seal to keep the product fresh for as long as possible and used lids do not always do this.

I bought a couple of sets of jam pot covers which include-

  • Labels
  • Rubber bands
  • Wax paper seals
  • Paper lids

The pack has a variety of sizes.

Jam Pot Cover Set

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I bought two sets at just under £5 each. The back of the packs shows the enclosed labels
I bought two sets at just under £5 each.
I bought two sets at just under £5 each.
The back of the packs shows the enclosed labels
The back of the packs shows the enclosed labels

The Pan

You can buy a designated jam making stockpot or preserving pan but you do not have to.

Use a large stockpot, probably the largest that you have, for making jam. An enamel or stainless steel pan works well.

Avoid using an aluminum pan as it may leave the jam tasting tinny.

A low wide pan will enable the jam to cook quickly and so taste better

The Basics of Making Jam

The basic principles are

  • Use fresh clean fruit that is not under ripe
  • Make sure you wash the fruit and drain it well in a colander or sieve before putting in the pan
  • Ensure all fruit stalks are removed
  • If you need to stone the fruit do so. Alternatively sieve after cooking and make a jelly
  • Use the correct ratio of sugar to fruit
  • Only use very clean jars that are not chipped or cracked
  • Ensure any jars, cutlery, pans and plates used are scrupulously clean

The basic ingredients are

  • Fruit
  • Sugar
  • In some cases water

Some recipes recommend adding lemon juice to aid the set of the jam (See Pectin above)

Sweet cherries are not high in pectin but my red sour cherries should be.

Making The Jam is Easy as 1, 2, 3

Making jam, fruit preserve, conserve or jelly is all about boiling the mixture for the correct length of time and heating the fruit and sugar and to the correct temperature.

When the mixture reaches a temperature called “setting point” the cooking is complete.

  1. Use equal amount of fruit and granulated sugar. For each pound of fruit use a pound of sugar
  2. Adjust to suit your taste once you have some experience of making jam
  3. You could use one pound of fruit and one pound of sugar making around three jars of jam as a trial run
  4. Chill a saucer in the fridge or freezer for use in testing the set of the jam
  5. Place the washed fruit and sugar into the pan over a very low heat
  6. Stir occasionally every until all the sugar is dissolved
  7. If the heat is too high the sugar may stick to the pan
  8. Once the sugar is completely dissolved turn up the heat
  9. The aim is to bring the fruit mixture to a rapid, rolling boil.
  10. This is when the bubbles cannot be calmed down by stirring with a spoon
  11. At this stage you will need to cook for a further 3-5 minutes until setting point is reached
  12. Look out for setting point signs when the mixture begins to thicken and boil more slowly. The bubbles should now be thicker and heavier
  13. It’s now time to test the jam to see if setting point has been reached
  14. Move the pan away from the heat source while you check. This is important
  15. Use a spoon to put a little of the jam mixture onto a cooled saucer.
  16. After a few seconds push the mixture with a clean finger and see if it wrinkles
  17. If it does the jam is ready. If it does not return to the heat for a minute or two longer
  18. Carefully pour or spoon the jam into the jars
  19. If you are using a funnel and jug to pour into the jars ensure they are sterilized too
  20. Screwing a lid on each jar while the jam is still hot should offer a good seal
  21. I prefer to use shop bought jam pot covers. These include a wax disc which seal the jam.
  22. Apply the wax disc at the top of the jam while hot. Once the jam has cooled place a dampened cellophane cover over the top of the jar, securing with an elastic band
  23. Label you jam with its contents and date made
  24. If the seal is not good the jam will stay fresh as long. Any such jars of jam should be stored in a fridge and used as soon as possible

Almost Time To Harvest The Fruit And Make This Jam

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Plump but not sweetBunches of fruit ready to harvestLooking goodSome cherries will be difficult to reach
Plump but not sweet
Plump but not sweet
Bunches of fruit ready to harvest
Bunches of fruit ready to harvest
Looking good
Looking good
Some cherries will be difficult to reach
Some cherries will be difficult to reach

The Stage Is Set

Within the next week the fruit will be picked, stoned, washed and turned into jam.

This is the first time I have made red cherry jam but I am well acquainted with the basics of jam making.

That said will my red cherries make a great jam?

Drop back for the verdict and images of the jam once it is made!

ILB Of Fruit To ILB Of Sugar Trial Run

Click thumbnail to view full-size
When removing the stalks some stones were removedMy large enamel stockpotAdding sugar to the fruit in the panWarmed jars straight from the ovenTesting the seWe decided to strain the mixtire through muslinThis free muslin bag worked wellA scrubbed and sterilized old dishwasher salt filler works well as a funnelCooling Looks good and tastes good. I sieved the mixture which means there is not as much jam/jelly as there could have been. But it tastes great. Next time I will stone the fruit
When removing the stalks some stones were removed
When removing the stalks some stones were removed
My large enamel stockpot
My large enamel stockpot
Adding sugar to the fruit in the pan
Adding sugar to the fruit in the pan
Warmed jars straight from the oven
Warmed jars straight from the oven
Testing the se
Testing the se
We decided to strain the mixtire through muslin
We decided to strain the mixtire through muslin
This free muslin bag worked well
This free muslin bag worked well
A scrubbed and sterilized old dishwasher salt filler works well as a funnel
A scrubbed and sterilized old dishwasher salt filler works well as a funnel
Cooling
Cooling
Looks good and tastes good. I sieved the mixture which means there is not as much jam/jelly as there could have been. But it tastes great. Next time I will stone the fruit
Looks good and tastes good. I sieved the mixture which means there is not as much jam/jelly as there could have been. But it tastes great. Next time I will stone the fruit

Making Jam

Have you made jam and if so was it easy?

See results

© 2018 Ethel Smith

Comments

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    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      14 months ago from Houston, Texas

      The only tomatoes I grew this year were grape sized and we were able to keep up with eating them. Time to plant a few more plants as soon as we enter the fall season.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      14 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Peggy but we do have a small back garden. However we manage to grow tomatoes as well as havi gbthe fruit trees. Have 14 pears almostvready and a ton of tomatoes

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      14 months ago from Houston, Texas

      You are so lucky to have all of those fruit trees in your yard Ethel. The last time I canned was when we lived in Wisconsin and had a half-acre of land. We had a huge garden and from that I canned tomatoes. We also had some chokecherry trees and I made some chokecherry jelly. I also canned applesauce. Reading this brings back memories for me.

    • RedElf profile image

      RedElf 

      15 months ago from Canada

      When my dad lived in Agassi, we loved to go for strolls to find vacant lots. They were usually overrun with brambles and the occasional abandoned plum tee. Free fruit makes the best jam.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      15 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      My mother used to love making jam. I haven't made jam very often, but after reading your article I think I'm going to try soon. I enjoyed my mother's version very much. Yours sounds great, too.

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      15 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Thanks Don. We tend to call blackberries brambles. We used to be ableto gather lots for jam making from wild hedges but so many have been removed sadly

    • ethel smith profile imageAUTHOR

      Ethel Smith 

      15 months ago from Kingston-Upon-Hull

      Hi Dred. In the UK major supermarkets stock pectin. We call our back yard a back garden. Houses that have back yards have literally a yard. Thanks

    • hard sun profile image

      Don Shepard 

      15 months ago

      Good stuff! We make good use of our space for gardening as well. My wife does the canning. I'll pass the jam pot cover set idea along to her.

      We grow various currants, cherries, raspberries, and blackberries for jelly and jam making.

    • dredcuan profile image

      Dred Cuan 

      15 months ago from California

      Wow! Cherry Jam! So that cherry tree is in your backyard? By the way, is pectin available in baking goods outlets or in specialty stores only? Long time I wanted to try making jam at home.

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