Monday, June 15, 2015

Bush Cherry Vanilla (Freezer) Jam

Pictured here on 60-minute rolls.

A few years ago we were at an outdoor market and one of the organizations there was giving out free plants.  We picked up three plants from them and placed them in our back yard.  They grew into nice shrubs with beautiful red berries that the birds seem to enjoy.  I trimmed them up to look more tree-like and shade our back porch.  (See picture below)

After having them a few years, we were picking up my son at my mother-in-law's house and I noticed him eating some berries from the same type of plant that we had in our back yard.  I asked my mother-in-law (who knows a lot more about gardening and plants than I do) and found out that we were the proud owners of 3 bush cherry plants (also known as 'nanking cherry').  The fruits are edible, although small with a rather large pit for the size of cherry they produce.  They are tasty though.

Where we live, the fruit ripens about mid June.  Even with the birds feasting on them, there is still lots of cherries for us.  It is that time again to pick the cherries and make something wonderful.  My kids are great at helping pick the berries.  This is what we did last year with the fruit, and we enjoyed delicious jam through the entire year from this project.  My son describes this as his favorite jam ever!  It tastes great on fresh baked rolls, and makes an excellent PB&J.


10-11 cups washed bush cherries
1 diced fuji apple (core removed but leave skin)
1 cup water
3 cups sugar
6 Tablespoons pectin powder (I used Ball brand Classic Pectin)
1/2 Tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1.  Combine cherries and apple in a large pot.  Add water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes.  Mash/stir occasionally while cooking.
2.  Remove from heat and pour the cooked mixture through a colander with a large pot underneath to catch all the juice and pulp.
3,  Push/mash the pulp through the colander and into the pot underneath so all what is left in the colander is mostly remaining cherry pits (I found it impossible to push through every bit of pulp).
4.  Place 4 cups of the pulp/juice into a pot and bring to a roiling boil for 2 minutes.
5.  Add sugar and mix well.  Bring back to a boil and continue to boil for 4 minutes.
6.  Mix in pectin powder and then lemon juice.  Stir 5 minutes over low heat.
7.  Remove from heat and mix in the vanilla.
8.  Pour jam into sterile containers and leave at room temperature for about 8 hours (overnight), then freeze or refrigerate.