We have a cherry tree in our front yard. The neighborhood critters tend to get to it before we do, leaving us not more than a handful of cherries, at best.
This spring the tree was loaded. You could see it walking down the street. We had hope there would be enough for all of us. Tuesday I had a bite of a cherry, realized they were not quite ripe yet, and noticed the tree was still loaded – a good sign.
Friday morning, there was much activity at the tree. Every bird & squirrel within a 6 block radius was feasting. I ran out with my basket and picked everything within reach without a ladder. I noticed a good deal of the fruit had some sort of funk, which was a bummer and the remaining fruit wasn’t entirely ripe, but I was going to get a crop off that tree dammit.
Two pounds later, I did.
Since they were mostly underripe, I knew cooking them was the way to go. Having picked 8 pounds of strawberries later that day from our little garden patch, I thought about combining the two.
Yes, you read that right. EIGHT POUNDS of berries from our little strawberry patch in one day. Two pounds the day before that. It’s been a banner year for strawberries.
Where was I? Oh that’s right, cherries. First, I had to pit the cherries. I got this little pitter last summer at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
It pits four cherries at a time, popping the seeds out into a tray underneath. That’s practically doing it in bulk when you think about it AND it keeps clean up to a minimum. I love this thing. I strongly recommend it, especially if you are considering doing anything with cherries this summer.
After pitting the cherries, I chopped up an equal amount of strawberries, added sugar and let it macerate overnight. I found this great post on Northwest Edible Life on making pectin free jam without a recipe that I used as a guideline. Because my cherries were not fully ripe, I went with 1/2 cup sugar for each pound of fruit.
The resulting jam is sweeter than I expected it to be, with big chunks of fruit.
I packed it in 4 oz jars, trying to stretch out the yield as much as I could. The result? 8 lovely jars of what we are calling “Greenleaf Cherry Berry”. I’m beyond excited that we grew enough fruit to make jam with this year. Take that squirrels.
Spread on sourdough toast for breakfast, it’s quite lovely if I do say so myself.
Cherry Berry Jam
2 pounds cherries, pitted & chopped
2 pounds strawberries, chopped
Combine the fruit in a non-reactive bowl with 1-2 cups of sugar. Cover and refrigerate overnight (or longer). Simmer on stove top, stirring occasionally. As the fruit starts to fall apart, you can mash it if you’d like. Add 2 tablespoons lemon juice and cook until it is ‘set’. Pack into jars and process in a hot water bath for 10 minutes.
Yield – 4 pints.