Monday, January 6, 2014

Fresh Cherry Preserves

Whenever it's snowy outside, I always feel the need to put a pot of something on the stove. That's what my Mom always did. It just makes the whole house warm and cozy and it always smells so good while it's cooking.
 Usually, I'll do a pot of soup or a stew, but this time I decided to make a pot of fresh preserves. Now, I know that may sound like a daunting task, but really, it's super easy! In this case, the only extra step is pitting the cherries, which really doesn't take very long at all. And the payoff is SO worth it when it's done! I made one batch, and loved it so much, I decided to make another batch the very next day. Absolutely delicious! I like to serve it with a compound butter or cream cheese, but serve it however you like! This is a tweaked version of Martha Stewart's recipe, and I think you should give it a try. It's REALLY delish!!

4 pounds red or yellow cherries, stemmed and pitted
2 cups plus 6 tablespoons sugar
2 or 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice

 Place four small plates in the freezer.
 In a medium stockpot, combine the cherries, 1/4 cup sugar, and lemon juice; place over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the sugar has dissolved, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in one-third of the remaining sugar, and cook, stirring, until it has dissolved, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the sugar in two more batches, stirring each batch until sugar has dissolved.
Bring the mixture to a full boil, and cook, stirring frequently, 10 minutes. Place a candy thermometer in mixture, and cook, stirring frequently, until temperature registers 220 degrees. 30 to 40 minutes. While cooking, skim any foam that floats to the surface.
With the temperature at 220 degrees, perform a gel test: Remove one of the plates from the freezer, and place a spoonful of the jam on it. Return the plate to freezer, and wait 1 minute. Remove plate from freezer, and gently nudge the edge of the jam with one finger. If the jam is ready, it will wrinkle slightly when pushed. If it is not ready, it will be too thin to wrinkle. If the jam does not wrinkle on the first attempt, cook 2 or 3 minutes more, and repeat the gel test.

 If there was ever a recipe that required a specific kitchen gadget, THIS is the one. I would not attempt to make any recipe with fresh cherries unless I had a cherry pitter. It is absolutely ESSENTIAL. You know how Martha is always saying "the right tool for the right job", well she is absolutely correct when it comes to using a cherry pitter. They're not expensive and worth every cent!
 This recipe actually called for fresh lemon juice instead of fresh lime juice, but I think limes and cherries are much better friends than lemons and cherries. You can use whichever you like!
If you plan to eat it right away, you don't have to worry about doing the whole mason jar thing. I promise it will be gone before you know it!

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