While Jeremy was out of town a few weekends ago I went on a cherry-picking adventure with my friend Amanda (the author from the Buttered Rum Pirate Cupcakes post). We drove a little over an hour outside of the city to the quaint little town of Leona Valley, a hot and dry place dotted with about a dozen different cherry orchards on either side of the main street. Neither of us had ever been cherry-picking before, nor had we seen a cherry tree up close, so it was quite a new experience, especially when we learned that tiny ants liked to crawl on the branches, and that our short Greek arms were not meant to reach the ripest cherries up on the high branches at the tops of the trees. Luckily, Greek ladies are also quite clever, and we quickly learned that the branches were very flexible and could be pulled down so that the ripest cherries were within our grasp. So we left the cherry orchards with a bag of cherries each and a few already in our stomachs (I can never keep myself from eating some of the fruit while I’m picking it, no matter how un-hygienic it might be).
I have been reading a lot about food preservation lately, (one of my new favorite blogs to read is Food in Jars), and after reading about combining black pepper with cherry jam on The Kitchn, I decided to try my hand at small batch canning with a peppery orange blossom cherry jam. It came out wonderfully pleasant, not too sweet and not too peppery, but with just enough kick that it resonates in your mouth for a few seconds after the bite. The floral hint of the orange blossom water helps to pacify the pepper too, and you can always substitute rose water since orange blossom water is difficult to find outside of Middle Eastern marketplaces. Makes about 24 ounces of jam.
Many congratulations, friend! I will be in touch with you shortly about the grilling tools.
Cherry Jam with Honey, Black Pepper, and Orange Blossom
- 3 Cups Cherries pitted and chopped
- 2 and 1/2 Cups Sugar
- 2 Tablespoons Honey
- 1/4 Cup Black Cherry Juice
- 1/4 Cup Lemon Juice
- 1/2 Teaspoon Black Pepper
- 1/2 Teaspoon Orange Blossom Water can substitute rose water
- 1 Packet Pectin powdered
- Canning Jars sterilized
- Heat all the ingredients except the sugar and black pepper in a medium pot over low heat, stirring every couple minutes.
- Once the mixture comes to a strong boil that does not cease when stirring, add the sugar and the black pepper and stir until fully incorporated. Allow the mixture to boil for three more minutes, then pour the jam into the canning jars and seal them tight with their lids.
- Place the sealed containers in a pot of boiling water for 10 minutes, then remove them with tongs and allow to cool to room temperature before handling.