Pump up the Jam
Pump up the Jam

An MK recipe.

Cooking has always been an important thing in my family. It’s not so much that there are secret recipes that have been passed down from generation to generation, it’s more about the memories and knowledge that we gain from cooking together.

My grandma, also known as “MK,” makes cherry jam every year. But what makes it special is not the jam itself, but the process of making it. MK picks her cherries fresh off the cherry bush in her backyard. It takes A LOT of cherries to make jam, so we usually make jam in the summer when the bush is full of ripened cherries.

The most time-consuming part of making jam is pulling out the stems and pitting the cherries, but this is my favorite part because I get to spend time with my mom and grandma and listen to their hilarious stories. My favorite memories were made over our jam-making tradition.

Cherry Jam

Ingredients

• 4 cups of cherries (about 3 lb. fully ripe sweet cherries)
• 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
• 5 cups of sugar, measured into a separate bowl
• 1 box SURE-JELL fruit pectin
• ¾ cup water
• ¼ tsp. almond extract
• Six 8 oz. freezer-safe canning jars

Preparation

  1. Bring boiling-water canner, half full with water, to simmer. Wash jars and screw bands in hot soapy water; rinse with warm water. Pour boiling water over flat lids in saucepan off the heat. Let stand in hot water until ready to use. Drain jars well before filling.
  2. Stem and pit cherries. Finely chop or grind fruit. Measure exactly 4 cups of the prepared cherries into 6- or 8-qt. saucepan. Stir in lemon juice.
  3. Stir pectin into fruit mixture in saucepan. Bring mixture to full rolling boil (a boil that doesn't stop bubbling when stirred) on high heat, stirring constantly. Stir in sugar and extract. Return to full rolling boil and boil exactly 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat; skim off any foam with metal spoon.
  4. Ladle immediately into prepared jars, filling to within 1/4 inch of tops. Wipe jar rims and threads. Cover with two-piece lids. Screw bands tightly. Place jars on elevated rack in canner. Lower rack into canner. (Water must cover jars by 1 to 2 inches. Add boiling water, if necessary.) Cover; bring water to gentle boil. Process 10 min. Remove jars and place upright on a towel to cool completely. After jars cool, check seals by pressing middles of lids with finger. (If lids spring back, lids are not sealed, and refrigeration is necessary.)
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