As if my library thing widget knew what time of year it was, last week it chose 'The Festive Season Handbook' for my cookbook challenge book #16. This little book was published locally in Victoria in 1990 and has some wonderful background stories to accompany the chapters and recipes. It is great to read the history behind the traditions of Christmas, for example how it came to be that we bring trees into our house and decorate them or the evolution of the christmas cracker from a pretty way to wrap sweets to the more elaborate versions of today.
I decided to make this jam because my mum loves cherries, luckily they were also on special this week because it is the start of their season... otherwise this could have been a very expensive exercise! The recipe didn't state how much jam it would make and I was more than a little disappointed when it only yielded 3 small jars... seeing as I wanted to add it to the Christmas hampers we make for the extended family (along with the vanilla essence), I had to go out and buy another kilo of cherries to make a second batch... by that time they weren't as cheap any more, but luckily they forgot to change the pricing in their computer system so I still got them for the cheaper price... score! I still need to make some pretty labels to go on them too... Besides the recipe not making much jam, it also took MUCH longer than the recipe stated for it to get to setting point (which could be why it didn't produce much jam)... the original recipe said to cook it for 15 minutes, but both times I made it it took at least 45 minutes to reach a set, so be prepared for it to take a while... It is delicious though, I would know, I licked clean about a million set testing saucers ;)
I'm sending this over to Happy Cook at My Kitchen Adventures for her Home Made Christmas Gifts event. I was thinking of doing a similar event but she beat me to it by a day! Oh well, less work for me & more time to make some gifts for everyone :)
Cherry Jam Makes 2-3C
Juice 2 medium lemons and put juice, along with 1C water, into a large bowl. Measure out 2 1/2C sugar and sprinkle a little over the lemon juice and water. Remove stones from 1kg cherries and tie them in a piece of muslin. Place cherries in lemon juice bowl, layering with the rest of the sugar. Leave overnight.
Next day, strain syrup into a large saucepan and stir over a medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved. Bring to boiling point, add cherries and the bag of stones and boil for 30 minutes, stirring ocassionally and squishing cherries to break them down more. Remove from heat, put a teaspoon of jam on a cold saucer and if it sets in 3 minutes, jam is done. Continue cooking if jam is not ready, removing pan each time you test. Skim off any scum from the top and remove muslin bag. Turn into warm, sterilised jars and seal.
As it is the festive season I have decided to cook something new from this book every week this month - Christmas only comes around once a year after all, so I don't really get a chance to use this book all that much the rest of the year! But in the interests of keeping my quick cookbook challenge streak going, I am also going to be moving on to book #17, which is 'Real Family Food' by Antony Worrall Thompson.