My cherry pitter is quaint. Right up until I made this batch of preserves, I had convinced myself that “quaint” was a desirable quality in a cherry pitter.
That’s it. In case you don’t know (and, looking at that piece of equipment, how would you?) here’s what a cherry pitter is supposed to look like. At about cherry number four, this little instrument started reminding me a bit too much of a certain medical instrument whose name I’ll spare you. I gave up.
I didn’t completely give up, I just started pitting them with my hands by gently pulling them into halves and knocking out the pit. This took less time than using my “pitter” and ended up being the perfect thing for these preserves since my sweet cherries were a little on the large side.
I adapted this recipe from Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures and Mrs. Wheelbarrow. If you’ve ever peeked at Mes Contifures you’ll know that while it contains gorgeous recipes and really smart methods, it does not follow USDA approved processing guidelines. For this missing piece, I consulted Mrs. Wheelbarrow who had also adapted a Ferber recipe for water-bath canning.
I love that each time I can, I feel like I learn something new. Something I’m still learning to have the patience for is *cough* skimming foam *cough*. Perhaps you noticed. Still, I’m really proud of these preserves!
Bourbon Cherry Preserves
- 2 2/3 lbs sweet cherries
- 3 3/4 cup sugar (I used organic)
- 2 T lemon juice
- 1 oz bourbon
- Pit the cherries with your hands by halving them and removing the pit.
- Stir them with the sugar and lemon juice in your preferred preserving pot and allow it to sit at room temperature for about an hour.
- After an hour, place the pot over med heat, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar dissolves you may want to stir it less and increase the heat slightly. Bring it only to a simmer.
- Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight.
- The next day, place 5 spoons on a small saucer in the freezer.
- Strain the cherries from the juice and return the juice to the pot.
- Reserve the cherries in a bowl and boil only the juice for 5 minutes.
- After 5 minutes add the cherries to the juice, return to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes.
- Remove the jam from the heat and check the set of the preserves using the spoon test*. (Mine needed about 2 minutes past the initial 5) If the set is too loose, boil for another 2 minutes, remove from the heat, and repeat the test.
- When you are happy with the set, add the bourbon and let the jam cool for 5 minutes while stirring intermittently.
- I processed this in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, but as this was not the official recommendation of the original recipe (ie: this is not a tested recipe), this can be frozen or stored in the fridge if you prefer.
*spoon test info here