I’m a sucker for jam – making it and eating it – and I always dig for the wee jar of cherry jam on restaurant brunch tables. BC cherries aren’t quite ready yet, but I happened to have a bag of frozen ones in the freezer – already pitted, even – and so tonight in an attempt to kickstart summer I made a small pot. Four jars’ worth – just enough to disgrace myself with buttered toast, and share a few with those I know will do the same.
I can hardly keep up with the influx of beautiful new cookbooks these days, but my pal Amy in Victoria has been working on hers for years, and I’ve been particularly looking forward to it – not only because Amy is awesome, but because I have a fondness for books on the subject of preserves.
Also – a fondness for Amy. She’s sweet and lovely and kind and funny, and showed up at my launch for the dog cookbook at the Empress with a box of Roger’s chocolates for me to be alone with in my hotel room. I remember the day she texted to share the news she had been contacted by Penguin! and asked to write a cookbook! and the topic is so fitting – she earned her certificate in home preserving; she knows her stuff but makes it easy – she’s done a fantastic job of covering everything from jams to pickles to chutneys to mustards to barbecue sauces in a book that’s just the right size to prop up in the kitchen as you work. I wish I was her neighbour.
Amy adds the zest and juice of an orange to her cherry jam, which is something I wouldn’t have thought of – I’ve done so with plums, but cherries are in even greater need of a squeeze of acid and are far better for it. The result still tastes brightly of cherries, but is somehow sunshinier, which explains the whole name thing. It couldn’t be simpler: simmer the fruit and pectin, add the sugar, give it a hard boil for a couple minutes and you’re done. If you’re nervous about whether or not your jam will set, this is what I look for: it should be a little wobbly in the pot, the bubbles thicker and slower, almost like liquid Jell-O. It should look like melted jam rather than syrup, if that makes any sense. And if you dip in a spoon and let it cool off a bit, it should wrinkle when you nudge it with your finger.
Yay Amy! It’s here! It’s beautiful! And it’s just in time, because everything is growing.