Tuesday, September 30, 2008

We’re Greedy Little Bears

Apparently there is someone who likes foraging for pin cherries as much as we do…bears. Luckily we’re only had one black bear sighting in Rhode Island recently so we weren’t too concerned as we returned to our secret pin cherry patch.

With the help of a boyfriend who was less than willingly dragged along we managed to pick another three quarts of pin cherries (which hardly put a dent in the crop, it seems no one else, animals included, has really caught on yet).

Since we already had pin cherry syrup we wanted a batch of pin cherry jam. We used a variation on the recipes we had for natural fruit jams (as opposed to those which use liquid or powdered pectin) and are thickened and stretched with the pulp from tart apples.

First we made our pin cherry pulp by simmering the cherries with a tiny bit of water, squishing them through a sieve, simmering the leftovers and squishing those again. We ended up with 6 cups of pulp.

We then peeled five Granny Smith apples. I cut out the cores and then chopped the rest and it all went, cores and all, into a solution of ¼ cup lemon juice to 4 cups water. When it was all chopped and treated to prevent browning it got simmered just like the pin cherries and the smooshed with our ricer. This yielded 3 cups apples pulp.

We then combined the pin cherry pulp, apple pulp and 5 cups sugar and simmered until it was thick enough that we thought it would gel.

I could say that we then immediately put it into jars with ¼ inch headspace and processed them for 10 minutes…but that would be a lie. Because by this point it was growing rather late in the evening so the pot of jam went onto the porch overnight (it’s getting cool here) and the next day we brought it back to a simmer and canned it. Our yield was about 56 oz. It’s nice and tart and makes an interesting addition to our odd jam collection.

Since we actually invented this recipe here it is:

12 cups pin cherries (which should yield 6 cups pulp)
5 tart apples (yield: approx. 3 cups pulp)
5 cups sugar

(Keep in mind that I only did this once so the amount of pulp you get might vary, even if your ratio was different I'm sure it would still be good. Also, you could always add more sugar if you like it sweeter, although I wouldn't do too much less because I think that's part of what preserves it.)

1 comment:

  1. Tho old-time Italians used to take those wild black cherries (I think they're the same as your pin cherries) and soak them in grappa. Since nobody I knew had actually done this, I simply poured grappa over the intact cherries, added a little sugar, and let them sit for several months. The cherries will absorb some of the grappa, so when you decant them, you'll end up with less liquid than what you put in. But what you get is so good, you'll only share it with your very best friends. (I discarded the soaked cherries, because I didn't know what to do with them.) Store bought unflavored brandy would also work well if you can't get any grappa. Perhaps some wise reader is knowledgeable about how the old-timers actually did it and can share the technique.