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How to store cherries and best cherry jam (2 ingredients)

It is the season of cherries, one of our favourite fruits. Those who are regular readers of my blog would have read about cherry picking I posted last year. In case you haven't read it so far, do read it by clicking here. We are never bored of cherries and it's always a pleasure being out in the farm. Similar to last year, we had a lot of fun in the Sun Valley Farms. Apart from tasting and picking cherries, we brought along lot of cherries home and rekindled lot of everlasting memories from my childhood.

Me and my cousins have spent most of our summer holidays in our grand father's home garden where we used to grow different varieties of trees, flowering plants, herbs and shrubs - tending to them and playing under their shades. And in the afternoons, we used to enjoy (should I say loot?) fruits from others orchards - guava, mango, papaya, tamarind, pomegranate, monkey pods and a lot more. Don't get judgy-wudgy. They were all our relatives yards and gardens­čśť

Whenever I think of cherries, I also remember the cherry used for decorating cakes in India, in the 90s. Growing up those were the cherries we knew. But those weren't actually cherries. They are karonda fruit known as Bengal currant in English. The fruit is boiled in sugar syrup along with some food colour and preservatives to give it the colour and sweetness. The actually cherry fruit was quite a rarity in India back then. 



Storing freshly picked cherries:

We got a big basket of cherries which was approximately 4 kilos. Cherries don't ripe after picking, so obviously we picked ripe ones. After reaching home, the immediate task at hand was to store them properly so that they don't rot. 

Method 1:
For smaller quantities, which you will typically consume within a week, just wash and store in boxes in the refrigerator. 

Method 2:
The best way to keep larger quantity fresh for a long time is to securely cover the cherry box using a cling wrap. They will stay intact for almost a month. Wash and enjoy the fruit whenever required. 

Method 3:
If you wish to store it for longer duration, then you can freeze them. Wash the fruits thoroughly and dry them well before packing in zip lock bags or freezer appropriate containers. This way they will last for 6months up to an year. 
But remember to pack them in small portions, to avoid thawing the entire fruit when you need. Once thawed no point in freezing them again. Also remember to thaw the fruit for just few minutes. If you thaw them completely they will turn mushy and will lose their texture. You can pit the cherries before storing, so that you don't accidentally chew on the frozen cherries and damage your teeth.

Cherry Jam Recipe:

While you can enjoy the fruit as is, you can also turn them into tasty ice cream, jam, pies and a lot more. The moment we were back home, my son asked "Mama, I want to eat bread and cherry jam". I promised him he can for his breakfast the next day. I chose the well ripen ones from the lot and made an yummy jam, with just two ingredients. 

My jam recipe doesn't involve any preservatives, lemon juice or pectin. Still it will last fresh for months together when stored properly in the refrigerator. But I bet, you will finish it before you even realize­čśćIt will be finger licking!!

Cherry jam is usually sweet with a bit of tanginess. But if you want to avoid the tanginess, then use only well ripe cherries. Some use pectin in jam making. It is a starch that is available in both dried or liquid form, usually added to jams and jellies to thicken them. But without it too the jam has the texture, taste and easily spreadable. Why include additives, when natural fruit works well? 



Ingredients:
  • Cherries - as many as you like
  • Sugar - as much as you prefer
Procedure:
  • Wash the cherries and pat dry them. Alternatively you can leave them to airdry overnight
  • Once dry, deseed the cherries and put them into a sauce pan (any wide mouthed vessel with a thick bottom will work)
  • Cook the cherries on medium heat. Within a minute, cherries will start to release the juice
  • Add sugar in batches and check the sweetness, till your desired sweetness is achieved 
  • Keep stirring the jam occasionally until the jam thickens
  • Once the desired consistency is reached, switch off the stove and allow the jam to cool down
  • Once the jam is completely cool, transfer it into an airtight container (preferably made of glass), refrigerate and enjoy
Tips:
  • You can also make a larger batch of the jam or make it in small portions
  • Obviously small portions are less time consuming and doesn't need canning. Just store it in an airtight container and use it within a week
  • If you want, you can mash or thoroughly blend the cherries before adding to the sauce pan. In such case, do remember the jam will take more time to thicken 
  • I personally prefer to use cherry chunks, so that we bite on the fruit while eating the jam
  • If you are looking for syrupy consistency, avoid overcooking. Otherwise it will thicken into jam. You can use cherry syrups as topping on ice creams, cakes, milkshakes etc.
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Below video gives you a glimpse of the fun we had in the farm, procedure to store cherries and the recipe for jam!! 







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