As the clock of the year ticks toward summer, and the weather has already arrived, I am finding so many little things to be thankful for. Many of these little things are in my garden. Every season we find some new way to develop the structure and systems of our little plot of urban earth, and every season the scrounging, resourcefulness, and sore muscles pay off in a blaze of plant-related glory – feasts for the eye and for the belly.
Tucked into my thankfulness for the bounty of fresh produce around here is the fun and joy I find in preserving the harvest. It’s not for everyone, but I can’t resist grabbing a bunch of whatever is at its peak right now, eating it fresh, and preserving the leftovers.
At Kruger’s Farm last weekend, the first of this season’s Rainier cherries had arrived, and there were already a couple of bags on the dollar shelf, put there because they were starting to soften and become less than shelf-presentable. Two dollars for two-plus pounds of sweet, red-yellow goodness? Yes, please! It’s the mushy fruit what makes the best jam.
Last summer (or was it the one before that?) my father-in-law and I made an experimental cherry rhubarb pie when he was visiting, and it was the talk of the town – which is it say he and I liked it quite a bit. Based on that, I decided to try my hand at a cherry rhubarb jam, and I think the splash of St. Germain added toward the end sealed the deal: A+. Special thanks goes to Joseph for coming in clutch and stirring/getting splattered with boiling goo toward the end.
Rainier cherry rhubarb jam with elderflower liqueur
2 lbs rainier cherries, pitted and haphazardly chopped a little
2 1/2 lbs rhubarb, diced
Juice of one lemon
5 C. sugar
1 package liquid pectin
1-3 T St. Germain
Cook the cherries, rhubarb, and lemon juice over medium-high heat, stirring frequently, until broken down. Add little bits of water if it starts to look too dry. Add the sugar and bring to a rolling boil. Boil rapidly, stirring constantly, until the jam is at nearly the consistency you’d like. Stir in the St. Germain, then add the pectin and let boil for another couple of minutes, still stirring constantly.
Funnel into hot, sanitized jars, leaving a good 1/2-inch of headspace. Can in a hot water bath for 10 minutes. Afterward, check to see that all the jars have sealed. (Educate yourself about safe canning practices.) This recipe makes about 5 pint jars of jam.
Enjoy your taste of late spring/early summer throughout the year!