The Northwest Cherry Growers from Washington State sent me a box of cherries. They were so delicious, I almost ate them all without preserving a single one, but I managed to set aside some for these delicious projects.
Cherry Bounce. It’s a delicious cordial, George Washington’s fave tipple! It’s delicious and takes about 15 minutes to stir together and then a world of patience while it does its thing for weeks. Make it before the cherry season is gone and you’ll be serving it this fall.
With all those gorgeous cherries, I turned to my good friend Domenica Marchetti’s lovely new book – PRESERVING ITALY – chock full of so many sensational recipes. It is a joy to read, Domenica’s writing is encouraging and fun, and the fabulous assortment of sweet and savory preserved foods are incredibly appealing. Throughout this charming book, are warm, generous stories of her family that make you want to spend the afternoon in her kitchen.
The introduction hints at one of Domenica’s favorite recipes – Sour Cherries in Boozy Syrup – that uses a fascinating technique of partially drying the fruit in a very low oven (or the sun) before soaking in sugar to create a syrup and then dousing in booze. I think, when they’re done, these will be the closest to my favorite Italian import cherries, so I’m excited.
Domenica’s publisher (HMH) was kind enough to send me an extra copy – so I’m giving one away. Leave a comment and tell me what you do with cherries and the book will be yours. (The winning comment will be randomly selected Friday, July 2.)
Before the season slipped by, I put up a few jars of my favorite sour cherry jam. I created this recipe two years ago, after the book was finished and I’m so happy to finally share it with all of you.
The secret to this jam is in the splash of nutty liqueur added at the very end. Many recipes suggest amaretto, an almond flavor; I think it’s cloying and too sweet for the tart jam. Try Frangelica (hazelnut) or, if you can find it, Chestnut liqueur. (I found it in Gascony while shopping with Kate Hill. #sorrynotsorry)
Sour Cherry Chestnut Jam
Makes 8 half-pints
3 pounds tart cherries
Juice of one lemon
4 ounces homemade Gooseberry Pectin or 6 tablespoons Ball Classic Pectin
21 ounces granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon unsalted butter
1 ounce Chestnut or other nut flavored liqueur
Start a large pot of boiling water for the canner at the same time you begin the jam making. If it comes to a boil before you are ready, turn the heat down and hold the water bath until the jam jars are filled.
Pit the cherries over a large preserving pan (6 quart or larger) to capture all the juices. Dispose of the pits. Stir in the lemon juice and pectin. Start with medium heat and increase to high over a few minutes until the mixture is boiling hard and is foamy. (You’re looking for the “boil that will not stir down.”)
Add the sugar all at once and stir well. Adjust the heat to medium or medium high, stirring all the time to avoid scorching. Bring back to a full, rolling boil. Cook at a hard boil for one full minute. The foam will have receded. Turn the heat off and wait 2 to 3 minutes. The jam should have begun to set and will wrinkle when you push against the surface. If it is still loose, turn the heat back on and continue to boil hard for one more minute. Check again. When satisfied, add the butter and the liqueur and stir well. The butter will help clear the last bits of foam.
Ladle the jam into the jars, wipe the rims carefully and place the lids and rings. Process the jars for 10 minutes. Use the jam within 12 months.
Friday, 5pm Congratulations, Rebecca! You’ve won a copy of Preserving Italy.