As well as tasting fab on toast, that cherry jam (see yesterday’s entry) makes a marvellous hot drink. Here are the instructions:
1. Boil some water.
2. In a mug, place a heaped dessertspoon of cherry jam.
3. Add the boiling water obtained in step 1.
4. Stir vigorously.
5. Enjoy – add a bit more jam if needed.
It’s sort of like a very grown-up version of Ribena, but hot and made with cherries instead of blackcurrants. There will of course be a cherry sludge at the bottom of the mug, but you can either eat this or throw it away – whatever you like.
We finished the last jar of home-made redcurrant jam this week. Its passing was mourned by both myself and Mr Beans, but not for long. That’s because last night, I made six more jars of jam, this time with some morello cherries that I scavenged off someone’s tree, in a leafy local street. Some of the tree’s boughs hang right over the pavement, so at the right time of year you can just help youself to a handful of the cherries. Which I did one afternoon, and realised that they would make excellent jam. Morello cherries are small and dark burgundy in colour. They shouldn’t be confused with the larger dessert cherries that you buy in punnets in the greengrocer/supermarket – morello cherries have a really acidic, strong flavour which means they’re ideal for making jams. (And also wine.)
The amount of cherries needed to make jam is a bit more than a handful, so I did the decent thing and asked the homeowner if I could have some cherries, offering to pay her for them. “Don’t worry about that”, she said. “You can have them for nothing. Try and pick from the branches hanging over my drive though – it’ll mean that fewer cherries end up falling onto my car! Oh, and give me a jar of the jam when you’ve made it.”
I did as she asked and ended up with 3 kilos of cherries… and that was after I’d stoned them. Stoning cherries is a messy business; all I can say is it’s a good thing our living room rug is predominantly dark red. (I sat in front of the TV while doing the deed, with a plastic apron on and a huge foam gardening mat covered with a towel acting as a tray. But a couple of times, the cherries sprayed juice as I poked the knife into them, with inevitable results.)
With a bit of help from Marguerite Patten and some adaptation on my part, I ended up with this recipe:
3 kg morello cherries (after stoning – before stoning, it’s about 4 kg)
1.3 kg sugar
Juice of half a lemon.
Wash and stone cherries. Simmer in a very large pan for 15 minutes, with stirring. Add the sugar and stir in to dissolve. Add the lemon juice and bring to the boil, with constant stirring until the jam starts to set. Warning: you need to allow about 45 minutes for this. Ms Patten’s recipe was rather optimistic in saying that you would need 15 minutes. However, it could be because her recipe had waaaaay more sugar in it (a cherries : sugar ratio of 1.4 : 1 rather than about 2.3 : 1, which is what I used). If you like your jam sweet rather than tart as we do, then you should put extra sugar in. You might find that it doesn’t take so long to set.