The first attempt at making cherry jam did not go well, at least if you wanted the outcome to be cherry jam and not very sweet cherry sauce in a jar. There were a few things I did the first time that I did differently the second time that led to the second attempt being recognizable as jam (whether it’s still runny jam remains to be seen). One, I used frozen cherries and didn’t let them thaw first. Two, I didn’t cook the cherries long enough before adding the sugar. Three, I misoverestimated the volume of cherries I had and correspondingly added way too much sugar. As a result, I got cherry sauce, more cherry sauce than I have any idea what to do with as we regularly eat neither pancakes nor ice cream.
The second time around, I did all of those things differently. I used fresh cherries, cooked them until they were all coming apart, and then added a proportionate amount of sugar. Thus far what’s in the jars looks like jam and it’s already less runny than the cherry sauce; yes, I keep tipping the jars to the side even though you’re not supposed to touch them while they gel up for 24 hours. As I was boiling and stirring the second batch for what seemed like a really long time, I did some math in my head and concluded I could use four of the jars of cherry sauce and a quart of fresh cherries as the base for the cherry-walnut conserves that I’m planning to make tomorrow, and have just about the correct amount of fruit and sugar. That will leave me with only four jars of cherry sauce—a number that seems manageable and like an amount we could work into desserts over the course of a year—and with two quarts of fresh cherries to make another batch of jam.
The very last canning-related thing that happened today was that one of my pickle jars exploded when I put it in the hot water. Which was really frustrating because (1) pickles are supposed to be easier than jam and (2) I never know whether to boil the jars in sticky water or try to skim out the stuff and add fresh water or what. This happened with one of the jars of apple chutney in the fall, suddenly the pot was full of floating raisins and bits of onion, and I went with the skimming and dilution with fresh water approach. This time around I just boiled them in sticky water and wiped down the jars when they came out.
So, tomorrow we will redo today. I will prep the cukes first, so that the four hour soak happens early in the day, for which I will also prepare by refilling the ice cube trays before I go to bed. I will then one quart of cherries and make the cherry-walnut conserves, pit two more quarts of cherries and make another batch of jam, and then do another round of bread and butter pickles. I will then be done with all of the fresh cherries I have remaining and the cherry season will be behind us; I passed on the last few quarts were at the farmers’ market yesterday due to the many I already have. My shoulder will certainly be glad to move on to a tool besides the cherry pitter, that’s for sure.