Making Cherry Preserves
Cherry preserves are cherries preserved in sugar. These preserves are jams and marmalades made out of cherries however a difference, though subtle, can be made between preserves and jam. Cherry jams tend to be smooth as the fruit it is made of is usually finely chopped, while their cherry preserves counterpart tends to have chunky pieces or even whole fruit.
Cherries are in season in the beginning of summer from about the first week of June. This is the best time to eat them, when they are fresh. However, cherries are very perishable and if not consumed quickly, they go bad. The good news is that you can still have this delicious and nutritious fruit throughout the year, even when they are not in season as they are quite commonly preserved either by freezing or by drying. Cherries are often included in several recipes as a main ingredient such as desserts and drinks.
Making cherry preserves is actually quite simple. Cherry preserves recipes require only two ingredients, cherries and sugar though some recipes are more elaborate. More complex recipes require, in addition to the cherries and sugar, lemon juice and pectin. Lemon juice is used both as a source of pectin and to add tartness to the cherry preserves though this is not required in tart cherry recipes. Pectin is found in berries, apples and can even be extracted from orange peels.
When making cherry perserves pectin is heated with sugar to thicken the liquid. The pectin eliminates the need to stand over a hot boiling pot of cooking fruit stirring until it is cooked down to a thick consistency. Pectin can be home-made or bought in liquid or powder form from a food store.
Aside from the ingredients you will also need some equipment when making cherry preserves. At least one large non-reactive pot to cook the cherries in, a cherry pitter to remove the pits from the fresh cherries (it is quite difficult to remove the pits from the fresh cherries so you will need a good quality cherry pitter) and a spatula or ladle for stirring, which should be heat proof. You will also need some jars that will be used to store the cherry preserves.
Before filling the jars with ready preserves, the jars should be sanitized by boiling. You can sterilize the jars yourself at home and to do this you will need a canner which is basically a large container that the jars are put in for sanitization. Besides the canner, a jar grabber, which is a tong like device used to lift the jars from the canner once they are sanitized. The jars will be very hot as they are sanitized is boiling water, so the tongs will be very handy to avoid any accidents leading to burns. Everything you need to make cherry preserves can be found in grocery stores in handy pre-packed kits. Though it is not essential that you have all of the mentioned equipment, it does make the process easier and safer.
The home-made preserves do have a long life and will last up to 12 months. It is however better to consume them soon after making because the older they get, the less flavorful they are.
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