Gorgeous red goodness - heaven

 July is the peak of cherry season in Portland, when you have a choice of several local varieties.  Our local markets are currently brimming with cherries that have not had to make a 1500 mile trek from warmer climates – heaven as far as I am concerned.  Once I finished eating just shy of my body weight in cherries, it was time for a cherry jam experiment. The inception of this experiment was a winemaker’s dinner at the now defunct Fife restaurant, where chef Marco Shaw served an amazing cherry reduction sauce alongside roast pork.  Since that dinner I have dreamt of recreating his cherry sauce, and given my new addiction to jam making – I thought what the heck let’s try it in jam form.   In my quest I adapted the Bing Cherry Jam recipe out of Ball’s Blue Book – replacing the almond liqueur with port and adding additional cloves in lieu of the cinnamon.    

Cherry-Port jauce on homemade yogurt


The result was tasty – but not really a jam (maybe I should call it a “jauce” as it is a little thicker than your average sauce).  The cherry-port jam experiment just goes to show that jam failures can still be quite good- so I am going to declare success – just not one that stays on toast very well.    

Cherry carnage


Cherry pitter with shield


Couple of notes on making cherry jam (or anything that calls for pitted cherries).  First – buy a cherry pitter with a shield, while still time-consuming it is much faster than pitting by hand.  Second – don’t rely solely on the shield, wear something dark and cover your workspace with a towel.  Third – expect your workspace to look like you have been slaughtering animals when you are done – pitting cherries is messy business.      

Recipe (makes 6 – half pints of jam/sauce)     

1 quart pitted chopped sweet cherries     

1 teaspoon freshly ground cloves     

1/4 cup fresh lemon juice     

1/4 cup port     

1 package powdered pectin     

4 1/2 cups sugar    

Mix all ingredients except sugar in a non-reactive pot over med-high heat until mixture reaches a rolling boil (one that cannot be stirred down).  Add sugar and return to rolling boil stirring constantly.  Boil for 2 minutes.  Ladle into 1/2 pint jars leaving 1/4 inch head space.  Process for 10 minutes in boiling water canner.