Cherries season is as ephemeral as a lightening bug (apologies to all my west coast friends who have no association with the short-lived flying flashlight), so preserving our favorite varieties is something we do in large batches for the three weeksbetween May and June. You can suspend the cherries in brandy, cook them into pie filling to store in the freezer or make a deep, dark and stunning jam to make your winter days a little sunnier.
Cherry Rhubarb Preserves
Pit the cherries and place them in a large, non-reactive pot. Cover these with sugar and lemon juice while you turn your attention to the rhubarb.
Trim the rhubarb, cutting the long stems lengthwise first, then into 3" long pieces. Toss these with the cherries and stir to coat. Let everything macerate overnight in the fridge (or out unless it's really hot in your kitchen).
Turn the heat on high and stir occasionally until the mixture comes to a boil. Turn the heat down slightly, stirring occasionally while the jam simmers for about 20 minutes. As the mixture thickens, stir more frequently, turning the heat down if you feel any sort of sticking at the bottom of the pot.
Continue stirring until the jam sets. I test this with a metal spoon by dipping the spoon into the jam and turning it facing down to see how slowly the jam drips off the spoon. You are looking for a jam that no longer drips, but has a heavy, pregnant pause before it falls off the spoon.
Turn the heat off as soon as you get to this gel stage. Follow our canning guide procedures if you wish to store this in the pantry. Otherwise, I dare you to try not to eat it all out of the fridge within a week.
Making a nice, thick, set jam from two low-pectin fruit that burn quickly can be challenging, but I’ve found that macerating the fruits together with lemon juice and sugar the day before cooking them works well. This recipe was designed for a large, 18″ jam pot. If you are working with a pot closer to 10″ round, cut the recipe in half. See our Canning 101 guide for more information about sterilizing and water bath canning.