Having acquired a stunning loaf of bread that had toast written all over it, I simmered up a small pot of jam using the handfuls of berries I foraged from my sisters’ back yards (strawberries in Anne’s, raspberries in Ali’s) and the Nanking cherries I shook into my empty coffee cup between the car and our house, and a few Juliette cherries plucked at my parents’ house. I want everyone to know that making jam is not scary, and does not have to be an all day, dozens of jars process.
Small Nanking cherries and even bigger but softer, juicier sour cherries can be tricky to handle, not quite firm enough to be pitted for pie. Typically impatient with random cherries, I usually cover them with water, bring them to a simmer and press them through a colander back into the pot to get rid of any pits. As easy as draining spaghetti, really. From here you can make syrup for waffles or cocktails, or go the jam or jelly route – I tossed in some raspberries and strawberries and added about half as much sugar as there was fruit. Measured completely by eyeball. (I rarely use any packaged pectin.) Bring it to a simmer and cook it until it turns into jam – really, that’s it. I caught most of the process on Instagram stories last night – at first the berries will look like simmering berries, then they’ll condense, the bubbles will get slower, the foam will start to disappear, and it will look like warm jam. If you want to test it, spoon some onto a cold plate and push it with your finger once it starts to cool – it should wrinkle.
I let mine cool in the pot and if it’s too runny for my taste, I bring it back to a boil for another minute or two. Seriously, it’s that easy – and I love just making a jar or two to have in my fridge for toast and scones. If you want to store it longer, stick it in the freezer. Jam is not scary! And with so many good red (and purple) things growing right now, I’m hoping more people will do this. No recipe required.