It popped. It really did.
Canning, preserving, or making jams is something I stayed away from, for the longest time. I always thought it was a very unforgiving procedure. The faliure would manifest not right away but much later, the day when you open the jar to taste the jam.
This year my sour Cherry tree prompted me to do otherwise. We had a bumper crop. We enjoyed them with squinted eyes, took them to work, to my friends and neighbour’s place. The birds had their share. We still had leftovers.
I had no other choice but to delve into the virtual world to look for recipes for Sour cherries. As soon as I let my intention and lack of experience out, at work, I got friendly advice from all quarters. ” I just saw cherry pitter was on sale at Superstore’ said one. “Whatever you do make sure the jars are bone dry”, warned another. “Bernardin” mason jars were purchased by the dozens.
My hair pulled back in a ponytail, glasses perched on my nose, I worked like a machine. The cherry pitter was put to use. Stockpots were filled with water. The counter top of my kitchen did not have any room left. Measuring cups, funnel, metal tongs, small plates for “gel test’, mounds of cherry seeds, sugar jar, squeezed lemon skin, kitchen towels and more kitchen towels, it was a scene from a crazy laboratory. My poor husband played it safe. He crossed the periphery of the kitchen a few times without saying a word.
As the last of the jam filled jars were put on the counter top, It was way beyond supper time. We sat for supper in silence, eyes fixed on the jars. Then, just then, I heard the sweetest sound. It popped. The lids were vacuum sealed . I passed! That was exactly my feeling.
Recipe: Adapted from Martha Stewart’s recipe with minor changes.
Yield: Two and a half 250 ml Mason jars.
Evan’s Sour Cherries, washed and pitted Eight Cups
Sugar Four cups
Juice from one lemon
Place a round wire rack in the bottom of a large stockpot. Stand three jars on the rack. Add the lids to the pot. Fill it up with water, completely immersing the jars. Be sure to leave about two inches space from the rim of the stockpot, so that water does not overflow. Simmer at about 180 degrees, until you are ready to fill them with the jam. Place a couple small plates in the freezer.
In another medium stockpot combine the cherries, sugar and lemon juice. Bring it to a full boil. Stir frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pot. It took about one and half hour for this to thicken to a jam like consistency. Do the ‘gel test’ now.
Take one plate out from the freezer and put a spoonful of jam on it. Return it to the freezer. Wait for a minute and take it out. With your finger push the edge of the jam, it will wrinkle if done. If not, continue boiling and repeat the gel test until ready.
Take the jars out from the stockpot using tongs. Empty the water back in the stockpot. Similarly take the lids and screw out of the stockpot. Put a clean funnel inside the jar and fill it with jam using a ladle. Leave about half inch space from the rim. Fill all the jars. Cover the lid, sealant side down. Put the screw in firmly. Return all the filled jars back inside the water bath with the help of a tong. Make sure the filled and closed jars have about an inch of water above their lids. Let the water boil. After about 10 minutes take these jars out with the tongs. Let it sit on the counter for 24 hours. As it cools you will hear a popping sound. The bottles are now vacuum sealed.
Store them in a cool and dry place. It can be enjoyed for a year.
I used a cherry pitter to take the seeds out. I felt I could do without it. I did need my hand anyways.
Do not throw away the seeds. It can be made into a small bean bag. Throw it in the microwave for a couple of minutes and use it as a hot pack.