Apricot Sour Cherry Jam

I've never seen fresh, sour cherries for sale in my neighborhood markets. That is until last week when I spied them at Milk Pail, a local European-style, open-air market. I never realized they were so teeny-tiny, smaller than a chickpea, and SO expensive! $7.99 for one pound!!

Apparently, sour cherries are highly perishable. They need to be picked with their stems intact lest they rot. Their flesh is also soft, so they don't ship well. Add to that, the fact that most tart cherries in the US are grown in Michigan, and one can begin to understand why it's difficult to find them in California markets.

Standing there, deciding whether to splurge on these ruby gems, I wasn't aware of all the aforementioned details. However, I did know that fresh sour cherries were prized for baking and preserves and I sure as hell knew I'd never seen them around here before, so it wasn't that hard a decision.

I bought about half a pound and tried to stretch my dollars by combining them with apricots for a deliciously tart jam. Sooo good, but it only yielded two half pint jars, so unfortunately, by the time winter hits, I will only be dreaming about this jam.

As a reminder to buy more sour cherries next year (if I manage to find them!), the recipe below is double my original.

Apricot Sour Cherry Jam
Makes 4 - half pint jars

In a non-reactive stock pot or Dutch Oven, stir and combine:
600 kg pitted fresh apricots, quartered
400 kg pitted sour cherries
550 g sugar 
juice of one lemon

Cover stock pot with a tea cloth and leave on counter overnight to allow the apricots and cherries to macerate in the sugar.

The next day when you are ready to start cooking the jam, put a couple of small plates in the freezer. Place stock pot on medium-high burner and bring to a boil, stirring constantly to prevent the bottom from scorching. Turn down heat if necessary to keep from boiling over.  You may see some foaming as the jam starts to boil.  It's not necessary to skim it off as the foam usually dissipates as you continue to cook the jam.  As you stir, note how the jam is thickening.

When it looks like it's thickened or jelled, turn off the heat and place a small spoonful on the frozen plate. Return to the freezer for a couple of minutes. Then draw your finger thru the jam. If it wrinkles and mounds, it's done. If not, continue to boil and try again.

Ladle jam into sterilized canning jars to within 1/4 inch of top.  Put on cap; screw band fingertip tight. Process in boiling water bath for 5 minutes. Alternatively, if you don't want to can, let the jam cool a bit and then ladle into freezer-proof containers leaving plenty of headspace for expansion. Once cooled, store in freezer for up to one year. You can also store in the refrigerator for 3-4 weeks.

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