Hello from beautiful Athens, Greece! In Dubai the temperatures have been boiling hot the last few weeks, so we decided it was about time for me and little James to hit the road.
Among other lush vegetation the house is surrounded by fragrant pine trees. There is an open air market every Friday where you can find fresh vegetables and fruits. After I was tipped off by my mom that they sell the most tasty black cherries, I decided it’s cherry jam time!
These specific cherries are called black cherries – mavrokerasa and are very dark skinned. They come from northern Greece, a part that is renowned for breeding the best cherries in the country. Their taste is sweet with lots of flesh that’s quite firm and juicy. Heaven!
Prepping the cherries
We bought 4 kgs of cherries which is about 9 pounds. After washing them thoroughly and removing the stems, we destoned them. This yielded 2.5 kgs (5.5 lbs) of fruit.
We put the fruit in a big heavy bottom pot and boiled it for 20 mins. Took the fruit off the fire and measured it. It was precisely 9 cups.
Destoning the cherries
Don’t mind my black cherry colored fingers!
Making the cherry jam
At this stage, please put a plate in the freezer. We will use it later.
Now I’m one of those people that do not prefer a particularly sweet jam. Therefore, I like to taste the fruit more, especially when they are in their peak season and so tasty. I think it’s a shame to over sweeten it. So anyway, we put the fruit back in the pot, brought it to a boil and added the juice and zest of 1.5 small lemons. Just be careful to grate the lemon with a small hole grater. As a result, you will grate off only the outer yellow part of the lemon and not the white skin underneath that tends to be bitter.
Next we added the sugar, regular white sugar, cup by cup. Tasting along the way, we decided to stop at 5 cups. Honestly, to my taste that was perfect. We lowered the heat to a simmer and stirred frequently so it doesn’t burn. Now I decided to experiment with pepper. Yes, you heard me, pepper, the regular black powder kind. The pepper gives the taste a big kick and enhances it quite a bit. If you want to take your jam a level or even two up, be bold and add pepper. If you are still not convinced, do me a favor and add the pepper powder bit by bit, checking the flavor as you go.
Simmer the jam for about 50 mins. You’ll know it’s ready when your jam has a thick-ish gel like consistency. Don’t expect it to be too thick though.
Remember that plate in the freezer? Take it out now and spread a teaspoon of jam on. It will cool down in seconds. Check the thickness of the cooled jam to see if you have what you are looking for. Yes? Congratulations get ready for breakfast! No? Simmer 5 mins more and check again.
We ended up with 8 cups of jam. To store, boil a few glass jars (and their lids) for 15 mins so they are nicely sterilized. Let them cool and spoon in the mavrokerasa jam.
Black Cherry jam with pepper - Μαρμελαδα Μαυροκέρασο με πιπέρι
Black Cherry jam. From sweet, firm and juicy cherries. Add pepper in it and make it a rockstar jam. By penelopeCooks right into your kitchen.
- 2.5 (5.5 lbs) kg destoned and destemmed black cherries (about 4 kg / 9 lbs of whole fruit)
- 1.5 small lemon juice and zest
- 5 cups regular white sugar
- 1/5 tsp vanilla powder
- 1/3 tsp black pepper powder
Wash thoroughly the cherries. De-stem and de-stone them.
Cook them in a heavy bottom pot and for 20 mins.
Put a plate in the freezer.
put the fruit back in the pot, bring it to a boil and add the juice and zest of 1.5 small lemons. Add sugar and stir frequently.
Add the vanilla and pepper powder and stir.
Simmer the jam for around 50 mins.
The jam is ready when you have a thickish gel consistency.
Take the plate out of the freezer and spread a teaspoon of jam on to check the thickness of the cooled jam.