A Cherry Jam Kinda Day


Sometimes my characters make me do things I didn’t know I wanted to do. Yesterday I drove about fifteen minutes from here to a local cherry orchard to buy cherries to make jam. This is something Lily would do, but I did it for her instead. On arriving at the cherry packing shed I discovered the cherry grower had already made a mass of cherry jam and would sell it to me at a reasonable price. But that wasn’t the point. I bought 5 kilos of cherries and arrived home with a little less than that. It’s extraordinary how many cherries you can eat in 15 minutes while driving.

This morning the anticipation was almost too much and I rushed to the kitchen to gather my jars, lemons, pots, and pans, bowls and so on and so forth. I decided to make Cherry and Vanilla jam, as I had a couple of vanilla beans hanging around. First an energising espresso and a quick look at the papers. Then I began pitting the wretched things. Whoever designed my cherry pitter should be forced to pit 4.7 kilos of cherries and then maybe they’d get the design right. I gave up on this device and used my thumb and fingers and squeezed the pips out – I had to mash them a little anyway once the pip was out, so I streamlined the operation. Cherries squirt lots of juice by the way.

Into the pot with the sugar, vanilla, lemon juice and jamsetta, which I’ve never used before. A glorious pink foam bubbled up as I stirred, and a sort of American soda fountain circa 1955 aroma filled the kitchen. A moment of inattention and the mixture boiled over resulting in puddles of glossy pink syrup all over the stove top. Never mind, onwards.

Whole cherries in jam tend to roll off your toast, an irritating drawback, but this jam has the right chunky mashed cherry texture to it, and although it’s a little runnier than I expected, it is what I hoped it would be – sweet, tart, cherry-ish, vanilla perfumed and delicious. I’m giving half away for Christmas and squirrelling the rest away for myself and my household.

Lily’s gone for a nap now, but I have a lot of cleaning up to do.


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