Cherry Jam…and why I LOVE Newcastle!

Intensely fruity and deliciously flavoursome – cherry jam!

Happy Friday everyone!  I hope you’re enjoying this beautiful sunshine and wonderfully toasty weather we’re having!  This is definitely one of those summers we’ll all look back on as being what a stereotypical summer should be in the chilly UK!  It’s been a bit busy here in the Dyer-Titmus house.  Being a teacher (I hear you all groan and stand poised with rotten tomatoes) means I am now 2 weeks in to my summer holidays.  This is a brief opportunity for me to explain the trauma of summer holidays – lots of time and not a lot of money!  Trying to make finances you’d normally frivolously spend on 4 weekends of a month, stretch to 30 days is quite stressful and so I have been taking part in frugal and free activities that keep me busy!

This is where jam comes in!  I’ve been preparing for my ZoBird Crimbo Hampers for the family, and as last months Rhubarb Glut post showed, it’s always fun to find exciting recipes that I know my mum in particularly will relish (pun intended).  So this is where I get in to why I LOVE Newcastle and in particular at this time of year.  Newcastle is an incredible place, anyone who has been here will know that and anyone who lives here knows why it grasps a hold of you and won’t let you go.  I came for University 12yrs ago and never left!

These are the reasons why I am feeling an overwhelming swell in my heart for Newcastle these days:

  • I live by the coast but within 30mins could drive to 4 different beach towns, in to the Newcastle centre, down to the Tyne River, in to the countryside and to work.
  • The rich culture here is awesome!  We have galleries (The Baltic), museums (The Hancock and The Discovery), replica period towns (Beamish) and a Quayside packed with an array of architecturally impressive bridges.
  • The food and dining culture here is amazing!  Businesses are opening left, right and centre, packed with delicious goodies for all palates, be it the indulgent pie and mash of The Redhouse, mouthwatering burgers at BurgerStop or Fat Hippo, paleo delights at The Naked Deli or the finest Fish and Chips at Gill’s in Seaton Sluice.  You can find so many places to indulge your hunger needs.
  •  The new craft beer wave has meant that even more pubs/bars are opening with a huge range of craft beers.  Places like Barca in Tynemouth and Tilly’s in Newcastle have been around for ages but never fail to put a smile on our faces when we see their huge craft beer lists and the fact they have Anchor Steam Beer on draft (a little taste of San Fran in the North-East).  Whilst The Tyne Bar, Cluny and Free Trade in Byker, hold the fort to an equally high standard!
  • Finally The Grainger Market!  I just love it here!  The Grainger is brilliant because it has so many different businesses crammed in to one beautifully vintage building, snuggled behind your mainstream shops, waiting to be discovered and for time to be wiled away.  You can get the best pizza in town here – NY style Tuscan Sausage pizza by the slice, sweet stands where you can fill bags full of goodies, weigh houses to get any of your baking ingredients, deli style food shops for specialised bread flour, spices and chilli’s, an array of bakeries and sweet-bake stalls packed with delectable treats and lastly the fruitiers overflowing with bargainous fresh fruit.

I managed to land a 2lbs bag of cherries here for £1.60 and 4 punnets of strawberries for £2.  A total bargain when you work out the supermarket equivalent.  Now one thing is for sure 2lb of cherries looks like A LOT of cherries, but it really isn’t!  I got 2 jars for the below recipe and even though this is a little disappointing, it’s totally worth is as i sampled it pre-jarring and it was so intensely rich in flavour and deep in colour that I knew a little would go a long way and that my mum will love spooning this over ice cream for a late night snack!

Ingredients

  • 2lb Cherries – this once pitted equated to about 660g of cherry flesh (rinse before pitting)
  • 110ml water
  • 3tbsp lemon juice
  • 360g sugar
  • THE PIPS!
Method

Not a massacre…just pitting! This jam is a total mare if you don’t have a pitter…mine was 20p in a charity shop! 

Weigh as you go, your initial weight will drop once stalks and pips are removed, ensure there aren’t any ‘bad’ bits

Rinse one more time if you think they need it and then throw in your jam pan or big saucepan

Now add the water…

Pop all the pips in a muslin bag – if you don’t have one you can use a clean pair of tights…just cut off a leg! Smash with a rolling pin to crack the pips and then add to the pan.

Add the lemon juice…I judged this by eye, but around 3tbsp is perfect.

At this point, leave the fruit to simmer and go all mushy for about 10mins. Heat the oven to 125degrees and place clean, washed jars in the oven with the lids. As you can see I was a tad optimistic about how far the cherries would go!

Keep checking on the fruit, but you’ll notice it starts to get mushier and the liquid will increase as it is released from the fruit

When the time is up, add the sugar to the pan…

Stir until it is all combined and turn up the heat to start a rolling boil

Nearly to boiling…watch for those bubbles as they increase VERY quickly if you’re not watching

Once boiling, set your timer to 10mins…let the mixture carry on boiling this entire time on a medium heat

Whilst the jam is boiling place a plate in the freezer…when the timer goes, remove the plate and place a small amount of liquid on the plate…allow to cool briefly and then push your finger in to it. If it puckers and wrinkles (like above) then your setting point has been reached. Switch off the jam and start jarring. If it doesn’t wrinkle then carry on boiling the jam for another 5mins…repeat the process until the jam crinkles on the plate!

Jar up your jam…yes…your maths is correct…all this fruit only made 2 small jars…but jeez the flavour is so intense and delicious it was worth it!  BE VERY CAREFUL AND USE OVEN GLOVES…THE GLASS JARS ARE HOT AND THE JAM IS LIKE MOLTEN LAVA!

So there you have it, another jam recipe to help you start hamper prep! I promise there will be baked goods next week…i’m about to make some Surprise Red Velevet cakes for my bestie, Ollie, so they;’ll be on next week to satisfy your cake appetites.

Enjoy the sun peeps!

Love ZoBird xxx

 

 

 

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