At one time, I had fifty pounds of cherries. Now, I have a beautiful, scarlet-colored, raw, naturally-sweetened cherry freezer jam.
Raw jam? Aren't they normally cooked into oblivion?
Naturally-sweetened? Aren't they normally chuck full of highly processed and refined white sugar?
Yes and yes. But no and no on this recipe, my friends.
I've made plenty of water-canned jams before, but this one, I decided to freeze instead. For starters, it's a million degrees outside and I didn't want to get a giant pot of water boiling while hovering over steam for an hour. For second, I wanted to preserve all that good rawness. Because why not! I have enough room in the freezer.
And frankly, I'm lazy. And freezer jam is easier. So there's that.
We actually aren't a huge jam-eating family, so this (coupled with the strawberry jam that we've brought back from Alabama) will be plenty to see us through until next season. It's nice to at least be able to check that off the list. Thus far, the only other “quota” that I've met with regard to my food preservation goals is the blueberries – we currently have 30 pounds frozen for use in pies, cookies, smoothies, etc. Yep. That means I've got a lot more work to do.
But in the meantime, let's make some raw jam, shall we?
I'm sure this recipe would also work wonderfully with raspberries, blackberries, etc. Might as well give it a try and see!
Raw Cherry Freezer Jam (Naturally-Sweetened)
You will need:
– 18 cups washed (check out our homemade produce wash recipe here), pitted, roughly pureed cherries (or berries of choice)
– 7 cups organic, whole dehydrated cane sugar (a.k.a.: rapadura) (a.k.a.: sucanant)
– 10 teaspoons pectin
– 3 cups filtered water
Step One: Add all the pureed cherries into a large bowl. Check.
Step Two: Add in the rapadura. Stir to combine. Dip your *clean* finger in and lick it off. Sweet enough? Perfect. Check.
Step Three: In a small saucepan, heat the water up to a boil. Add in the pectin and use an immersion blender (or transfer to a regular blender) to combine. The pectin will become quite sticky and will clump together, so it's really handy to have an immersion blender on hand to whip it together as quickly as possible. Once the pectin is dissolved, remove from heat.
Step Four: Pour the pectin/water mixture into the cherry mixture. Check.
Step Five: Stir to combine. You'll begin to see the jam set almost immediately. Just keep stirring, stirring, stirring for a few minutes while it all combines. Check. (It all seems so easy when you say ‘check' at the end, doesn't it?)
Step Six: Scoop out the jam into freezer safe containers. Ideally, I would have liked to use glass, but I only have a hodge-podge of small jars and I knew that space would be limited in my freezer, so instead, I opted for super-stackable plastic containers.
Step Seven: Allow the containers to sit and settle at room temperature for a few hours. After the jam has completely set, transfer to the freezer.
Sorry. I couldn't help myself.
The actual jam making part of this recipe is very quick and easy. The pitting of the cherries part is not (at least I had a pitter, but still…). It takes for-ev-ah. But that's sort of the way it goes with food preservation – a lot of prep work and a lot of payoff in the end.
Payoff = 15 pints of raw, naturally-sweetened, homemade freezer jam.
To serve atop a dutch baby pancake.
Or toast from homemade bread.
Or a soaked biscuit.
Or whatever your little heart desires.
My heart desires this delicious jam. And my cow to be pregnant. But that's another story.
For other great meal ideas, no matter what your dietary restrictions, check out the meal planning service I use: Real Plans.