White Cherry Jam

This is Marie, contributing another article about jam. Now, this one is less for our regular readers than some hypothetical person who happens to be standing next to something interesting in the produce section and doing an internet search to see what the intriguing something is good for – in this case, white cherries. Can you tell I’ve done this a lot?

Anyway, I really enjoy dark cherries (my favorite is mixing red cherries and blueberries – they’re fantastic together). Rainier-type cherries are OK too, in my book, and I got curious about whether they’d make good jam. However, Google and Safari both came up totally blank on that; the closest was this article on white cherry and peach (http://www.smithbites.com/2011/07/white-cherry-peach-jam/) which I made, and found tasty. But there was nothing whatsoever on making standard jam from non-red cherries. I didn’t see why it wouldn’t work, and so after first making the peach version, I saw these lovely huge boxes of the Orondo Ruby variety of white cherry for a very reasonable price.

I started preserving with Sure-Jell low sugar pectin, so I use the proportions in their handy directions booklet even if I’m using another variety of pectin. In this case, it was 5 cups of pitted cherries, heaping the cups as the original directions call for chopped fruit, with three cups of sugar. I used 3 tablespoons of pectin (on a higher-pectin fruit I’d reduce the amount slightly).

My son and I, of course, gorged ourselves on the fresh fruit (the other two family members seemed uninterested). Two boxes was way too much for this recipe so we went to town. The fresh cherries had a nice snap to them, which should have given me a hint as to their firmness. I cooked down the fruit, using my trusty potato masher to make sure the bits were small enough that in my experience with other fruit they should have softened, but it just didn’t work. I wound up having to put the cooked fruit through a food mill to keep from having a skim of chunks floating on the top. Preserves might have been a better choice but I was already committed to jam at that point.

I was somewhat disappointed in the result. It didn’t have a lot of depth of flavor; the peach version was definitely better. It is sweet, and a lovely color, but I don’t recommend it on its own. My lovely neighbors, who are kind enough to taste-test my experiments, agreed. If you have a ton of white cherries and a yen for some jam, combine them with another fruit that has some zip.

Alternately, next year when they come around again, I am considering trying something like this fun recipe for boozy cherry preserves, in the hope of tickling the palate of some of my more liquor-friendly family and friends. Just the name “boozy cherries” has a zing on its own!


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