Chocolate. Cake. The smell of the Lovely One’s neck in the morning. These are just a few of my favourite things. Another thing I love? FREE SHIT.
One of the tragedies of my life was moving out of my old place in Hackney where the Jeweller and my gorgeous friend Odette grew courgettes, tomatoes and pumpkins in the back. Wild strawberries rooted in the lawn and summertime was a riot of colour, fruit and a timeless struggle against all the snails in creation. I got real good at exterminating those little thieving arseholes.
Fortunately, free shit still abounds, whether it’s sloes from Housemate’s Dad, or blackberries from the homeland (Somerset). But some bounties are unexpected and all the more precious for it. When a lady from work mentioned she had cherry trees, I said I’d be happy to take some off her hands if the chance arose. A day later, and this arrived on my desk.
That’s two kilos of cherries. Of course, my mind was a whirl. Obviously there are three things which anyone in their right minds should do with cherries:
1) eat them by the bowlful in front of Rupaul’s Drag Race (tick)
2) Cherry crumble (tick – or rather, potential tick, as they’re nestling in the freezer waiting for the opportune time)
One of my issues is that I’ve never been especially good at jam. Chutney, lemon curd, all of that, just dandy. But jam seems to be one of those things I just can’t get right. I tried making blackberry jam a few years ago, and it was so solid when it set I could bounce it off walls.
But I decided that 2 kgs of cherries was enough to risk it again. Fortunately I found this cool no-recipe recipe courtesy of the fabulous David Lebovitz. It’s mega-simple and super-easy, but essentially you just cook down pitted cherries with the juice of a lemon for about 20 min until pulpy and soft, measure out with cups (any will do, although american cups can work), then add jam sugar (with added pectin) in a ratio which approximates to 3 sugar: 4 cherries.
Obviously make sure you have sterilised jars ready to go – my favourite method is to stick them on a hot cycle in the dishwasher then dry in a low oven, but hot soapy water does the trick just fine as well. Just remember to time it so that the jars are still warm when you fill them.
I used about 1 kgs of pitted cherries which cooked down to 3.5 cups, and added 2.75 cups of sugar for a soft set. It worked like a dream! The cherries soaked up a lot of the sugar and it’s a bit like tart glacee cherries spread on your toast. I cannot WAIT to try it in a cake.
Lovely One ate two-thirds of a pot of jam in a day, so I figure he approves.