Sour cherries make an excellent jam: They’re tart but still sweet, without too much sugar to mask the intense flavor of the fruit. Using lime juice instead of lemon gives the jam an unexpected zip of citrus. Cherries will release a lot of liquid and will foam quite a bit as they cook, so it’s crucial to make your jam in a large enough vessel—an 8-quart stockpot, like the super-sturdy one from All-Clad’s D3® Stainless collection, might seem awfully big for the batch size but it’s the best insurance against having your jam boil over. This jam doesn’t use pectin—without that thickening agent, you need to rely on time to get a nice, sticky texture. Boil it steadily for 30 to 60 minutes (the time will vary considerably depending on the ripeness of your fruit and how thick you like your jam), to achieve a beautifully set jam. To double down on simplicity, I don’t can this jam, although you certainly can if you’d like to.
—Posie (Harwood) Brien
Test Kitchen Notes
- Prep time 30 minutes
- Cook time 1 hour
- makes 3 pints
(1,800 grams) sour cherries, pitted and halved
(594 grams) granulated sugar, divided
limes, zested and juiced
- Place the cherries, 1 ½ cups of the sugar, and lime juice in a large stockpot. Toss to combine, stirring until the sugar starts to dissolve. Add the remaining sugar, stir, then let sit for 30 minutes to encourage the fruit to begin to release its juices.
- Place a small plate in the freezer (you’ll use this to test for doneness).
- Place the stockpot on a burner over medium heat and bring the mixture to a rapid simmer.
- Cook for about 10 minutes, then increase the heat to medium-high (it should be at a steady, but not rapid, boil) and cook, stirring often, until the mixture begins to thicken considerably. This can take anywhere from 30 minutes to 1 hour, so keep a close eye on your jam. Cherries give up a lot of liquid and can very quickly foam up and boil over, so don’t leave it unattended!
- When you think it looks ready (thick and jammy), remove the plate from the freezer, take a spoonful of jam, and place it on the plate. Tilt the plate and watch the jam: If it runs easily down the plate, it’s not ready; if it slides slowly, it’s ready. When your jam is ready is less of an exact science and more a matter of preference. If you prefer a runnier, looser jam, take it off the heat sooner. If you like a more set jam, cook it a little longer.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the lime zest.
- Let the jam cool, then transfer to small jars or containers. It’ll keep in the refrigerator for about 2 weeks, or you can freeze it for longer storage.