I Sprayed Some Cherries With Mace

29 Jun

It tastes as good as it looks!

And now their eyes are burning. With deliciousness! Wow. Sometimes I really reach on the titles of these posts, huh?  It’ll make sense in a minute, just trust me. Anyhow, remember those sour cherries from the end of the last post? That was just the bit that went into a pie that we ate with some friends who came over to grill, drink beer, play bocce, and generally enjoy the wondrousness of being outside in the summer. We picked nine pounds on Saturday morning though, and after the jump I’ll explain what happened to the rest of them.

But first, pie. Panda took a tip from Lynn Rosetto Kasper and, after making the bottom crust, spread out a thin layer of almond paste in the bottom of the pie. Almond paste is kind of expensive; it was probably a $10 pie to bake, and almost 70% of the cost is almond paste. But for a special treat it was so, so very worth every penny. I’m still regretting a little bit that I let Panda have the last little leftover slice the next day. I really am a goodhearted man, I guess.

So, on Sunday, I took roughly 8 pounds of cherries, and with a willing partner, used a paper clip to pit them, resulting in just shy of 6 pounds of cherries (crazy that there’s that much pit weight, no?). These  (The cherries, not the pits. Those went in the trash to attract fruit flies.) then went into the two batches of cherry jam you see up there.  I used pretty much the exact recipe from Put’em Up, so I won’t go into those details here. The only things I did differently are that A) I cooked it to a much firmer set (resulting in a yield about half of what the book says you will get), and B) I did some interesting (to me) things with the flavors.  The one on the right is a Cherry-Almond Jam, and the one on the left is a Cherry Cinammon, and Mace Jam.

For Cherry-Almond, I added a teaspoon of almond extract at the end of the cooking, stirred it in well, and then ladled into jars to prevent the extract from having time to evaporate (it’s mostly alcohol, you know). For the Cinnamon and Mace, I added a tablespoon of cinnamon (or was it two? I really should keep better notes) and a little sachet of the crushed up mace from a hazelnut.

Both are heavy on the cherry flavor, subtle with the other flavors, and this particular recipe called for waaaay less sugar than I’m used to, which was a really pleasant surprise. Altogether, I give it an A+.

If I had it to do over again, I think the only things I’d change are:

  • Use more cherries. The one with almonds in it had 3 lbs, the other had 2 lbs, 10 ounces. The result was 3 and 2.25 pints, respectively.
  • Also affecting the yield was, obviously that I cooked it to a really firm set. I might consider using pectin next year, doing the macerate/cook the juice/add the fruit trick, or just let it be a little looser. I like the way this spreads and sits on a biscuit, but  again, the yield was a little low for how much fruit went in (and for how much jam I’d like to have on hand.
  • When using a cheesecloth sachet to steep the flavor of something into a jam, remember to pull out the sachet before you put everything in jars. Luckily I remembered right before I put them in the water bath, but still. Not fun fishing around in five jars of jam with a fork to find that thing, and then redistributing/scraping the last bits out of the pot to try to get the right head space on the jars.

In case you’re wondering, yes, those are post-its on top of the jars. That’s just so I can keep things straight until I get them labeled, which I didn’t do immediately because we’ve got something up our sleeves for fancy-pants jam labels. I’ll reveal that come after the surprise has been revealed to those for whom it’s meant to be a surprise. That is, if I remember to swing back around on this topic and actually reveal the surprise.

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