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Spiced Cherry Preserves

May/June 2014

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This cherry preserve recipe is delectable with warm scones, over vanilla ice cream or swirled into plain yogurt. If you have access to sour cherries, you can substitute them for up to half of the sweet cherries and increase the sugar to 3 cups.


Spiced Cherry Preserves

Makes: About 6 cups

Serving Size: 1 Tbsp.

Active Time:

Total Time:

Equipment: 6 half-pint (1-cup) canning jars, cheesecloth, kitchen string, canning equipment

Ingredients

  • 6 pounds sweet cherries, pitted, divided
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, halved
  • 2 2/3 cups sugar, divided
  • 7 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, divided
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 whole star anise
  • 2 whole cloves
  • 1 vanilla bean, split in half
  • Zest of 1 large orange
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped candied ginger or candied orange or lemon peel
  • 1/2 cup good brandy (optional)

Preparation

  1. Before starting the recipe, gather the needed equipment (see Tips).
  2. Combine half the pitted cherries, apple, 1 cup sugar and 3 tablespoons lemon juice in a heavy 6- to 8-quart nonreactive pot (see Tips); bring to a boil over high heat. Cook, stirring frequently, until the cherries are soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Discard the apple.
  3. Run the cherries through a food mill or press them through a chinois into a large, nonreactive bowl. (If you don’t have a chinois or food mill, press the cherries through a sieve or colander, using a large spatula or wooden spoon to press out as much juice as possible.)
  4. Place cinnamon stick, star anise, cloves, vanilla bean and orange zest on a 6-inch square of cheesecloth and tie up with kitchen string to make a little bag.
  5. Place the spice bag in the bowl with the strained cherries. Add the remaining (pitted) cherries, the remaining 1 2/3 cups sugar, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and candied ginger (or candied orange or lemon peel) and stir to combine. Cover and let stand for 4 hours at room temperature or refrigerate overnight.
  6. When you are ready to cook, prepare 6 half-pint (1-cup) canning jars and lids: Wash in hot soapy water and rinse well. Place the rack in the pot and place the jars, right side up, on the rack. Add enough water to fill and cover the jars by at least 1 inch. Cover the pot and bring to a boil; boil, covered, for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat. Keep the jars in the hot water (with the pot covered) while you prepare the recipe.
  7. Meanwhile, place the new lids in a small saucepan, cover with water and bring to a gentle simmer. Very gently simmer for 10 minutes (taking care not to boil). Turn off the heat and keep the lids in the water until ready to use.
  8. Place a saucer and 4 small spoons in the freezer for testing the consistency of the preserves later.
  9. Discard the spice bag and scrape the cherry mixture into the 6- to 8-quart pot; bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently to dissolve the sugar. Boil vigorously, stirring frequently and scraping the bottom with a heatproof spatula to prevent sticking, for 15 minutes. If the jam begins to boil close to the top of the pot or scorch on the bottom, immediately reduce the heat.
  10. After 15 minutes of boiling, stir in brandy (if using) and the remaining 2 tablespoons lemon juice. Return to a boil and cook about 5 minutes more.
  11. When the preserves look reduced, and thick, test if they’re ready: remove from heat and place a little of the preserve liquid on one of the spoons from the freezer. Rest it on the saucer and return to the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes. Drop the sample from the spoon onto the saucer; if it’s thick enough to stay mounded without running or spreading, the preserves are ready. If it’s too runny, return the pot to a boil and cook for about 5 minutes before testing again. When the preserves are done, skim excess foam from the surface.
  12. Remove the sterilized jars from the water and place on a clean towel (if they’re placed on a cold surface, the jars could crack). Using a funnel, fill jars to within 1/4 inch of the rim. (Any extra preserves can be stored in a small container in the refrigerator.) Run a chopstick around the inside of the jar to release air bubbles. Wipe the rim with a clean cloth. Use a lid wand (or tongs) to remove the lids from the hot water. Place lids and dry rings on the jars. Tighten until just finger-tight (won’t move with gentle pressure) but don’t overtighten.
  13. To process the filled jars: Using a jar lifter, return jars to the pot with the warm water, placing them on the rack without touching one another or the sides of the pot. If the water does not cover the jars by 1 to 2 inches, add boiling water as needed. Cover the pot and bring to a boil; boil 5 minutes, then turn off the heat, uncover the pot and leave the jars in the water for 5 minutes. Use the jar lifter to transfer the jars to a towel, with some space between each jar. Let stand, without moving, for 24 hours. (If you do not want to process the jars in a boiling-water bath, you can refrigerate the preserves for up to 2 months.)
  14. After 24 hours, unscrew the rings and test the seals by pressing lightly on the center of each lid. They should have a slight concave indentation and neither yield to your pressure nor pop back. If a seal is not complete, you can process again in boiling water or store any unsealed jars in the refrigerator.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Store at room temperature for up to 1 year if processed in a water bath.
  • For this recipe, you will need the following canning equipment: 6 half-pint (1-cup) canning jars with rings and new lids; a canning pot with a rack or a large pot plus a heatproof rack that fits into the bottom of the pot; a chopstick; canning funnel; jar lifter; lid wand or tongs to help remove lids from hot water; and a clean cloth to wipe the jar rims. Canning equipment is available in hardware stores and at canningpantry.com (complete kits $43-$75).
  • Be sure to use a nonreactive pan, baking dish or bowl—stainless-steel, enamel-coated or glass—when cooking with acidic food (citrus, cranberries, tomatoes) to prevent the food from reacting with the pan. Reactive pans, such as aluminum and cast-iron, can impart off colors and/or flavors.

Nutrition

Per serving: 45 calories; 0 g fat (0 g sat, 0 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 11 g carbohydrates; 6 g added sugars; 10 g total sugars; 0 g protein; 1 g fiber; 0 mg sodium; 64 mg potassium.

Carbohydrate Servings: 1

Exchanges: 1/2 other carbohydrate


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Recipe Categories

Ethnic/Regional
American
Health & Diet Considerations
Diabetes appropriate
Low carbohydrate
Gluten free
Ease of Preparation
Easy
Total Time
More than 1 hour
Servings
8 or more
Preparation/ Technique
Preserve
Season
Spring
Summer
Type of Dish
Sauce/Condiment, sweet
Publication
May/June 2014
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