Jamming in Vancouver – Cherry Bourbon Jam

by admin - July 31st, 2012.
Filed under: Other Topics, Our Partners, Recipes. Tagged as: , , , , , , , , , , , .

One of the motivations for me in opening up our little B&B in Vancouver, Canada, was my love affair with food.  And I don’t really mean gourmet food, but rather “real” food, the process of food – arugula fresh from my garden, apples from a tree in my yard, mountains of glorious produce at a farmers’ market, the earthiness of washing soil off of freshly picked vegetables, the amazing aroma of artisan breads…I could go on.  I guess the old saying about “you can’t take the country from the girl” is true, because I still get enormous satisfaction out of planting tiny little seeds in the soil in the Spring and watching them burst forth out of the ground, gradually giving us a bounty of fresh green broccoli, quirky garlic scapes, tendrils of fresh green peas in the pod, and berries, berries, berries!  I absolutely adore berries, and there are few things that give me greater joy than wandering out in my garden and eating a handful of fresh, luscious raspberries, or pretty much any berries, right off the bushes!  Except perhaps the joy of turning those wonderful little jewels into sumptuous jams, with such wonderful combinations as Raspberry & Coffee Liqueur, Grape Margarita (yes, tequila!), Strawberry Balsamic & White Chocolate, Peach Frangelico & Almond, to name only a few of our favorites.   I find making jam to be one of those calming, wonderful tasks that makes me truly appreciate God’s creation – the purple juice dripping down my arms as I pit mounds of cherries, the wonderful sweet aroma as the big pot of fruit and sugar comes to a boil, the gift of each little sparkling jar filled to the brim with sugary goodness, and finally the satisfaction of a lovely row of perfect little jars with colorful labels gleaming like jewels in the sun coming through my kitchen window. All is good in my little world when I’m making jam!

A week or so ago, two of our lovely guests at the Bee & Thistle gave us a gift of a bottle of bourbon from their native state in America. What a coincidence that I happened to have come home from our farmers’ market with a huge basket of freshly picked, delicious cherries simply bursting with juicy goodness!   In truth, there are few great recipes out there that I’ve found for jams made with liqueurs & spirits, but I love to experiment with my own. Some over the years have been a great success and some a dismal failure.  But I’m always looking for a new and interesting combination, and there I was with a bottle of bourbon and a big basket of cherries sitting side by side on my kitchen counter! Eureka!  Bourbon is not such a common spirit in Canada but the best bread pudding I ever had was in New Orleans and laced generously with bourbon! Obviously, it works very well in cooking and I couldn’t wait to pour a generous amount into a big pot of bubbling cherry jam!  I have to say that it is definitely yummy and I want to say thank you to those two special people for their gift of a new Bee & Thistle jam treat – Cherry Bourbon Jam.  I will perhaps tweak this recipe a bit when I make it next time- perhaps eliminate the lemon juice and use 1/4 cup of bourbon to deepen the bourbon flavor (but hey, I was saving some for sipping since it was a gift and a rare taste for us Canucks!). Here’s what I did….

Cherry Bourbon Jam

4 Cups Pitted Sweet Cherries, Chopped Finely (I used my food processor but don’t over process)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

1 package commercial pectin

5 cups granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon butter

2 tbsp bourbon

Prepare 6 or 7 small jam jars (250 ml) and lids using your favorite sterilization method.  Place a large canner of water on the stove to start it boiling. Make sure you have all your equipment sterilized and ready to use as you won’t have much time after the jam comes off the stove. I like to have everything all laid out, including a ladle, spatula, a hot pad or folded towel to set the hot pot on when it comes off the stove, a plate to set the jars on for filling, a jar funnel (bigger than a regular funnel), a pair of jar tongs to remove the jars from hot water bath and the canner rack.  Place the 5 cups of sugar in a bowl so it’s ready to toss into the pot when you’re ready. Place prepared fruit, lemon juice, butter and pectin in a large pot (cannot be more than 1/2 full to allow room for boiling). Bring to a full rolling boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Add the sugar all at once, stirring until dissolved and it comes back to a full rolling boil that cannot be stirred down.  Boil hard for 1 minute (it’s okay to turn the heat down a bit if the mixture looks in danger of boiling over, but must continue at a hard boil).  Add the bourbon (carefully, as it will splatter). Bring back to a boil for a few more moments.  Remove from heat.  Transfer to the hot pad or folded towel on your work surface. With a large spoon, stir the jam occasionally and skim off any foam for one minute (the butter will prevent too much foam from forming, but there may still be some). Place one of your sterilized jars on the plate, topped with the jar funnel, and ladle in the hot jam until 1/4″  from top of jar.  Continue filling until you have used up all of the jam (any extra is great popped in the fridge for breakfast or poured over ice cream!). Immediately top each jar with a prepared sealing lid and screw a band down over the lid until firmly tight but don’t wrench it tighter.  Place the jars in the canner rack and once the water in the canner is boiling, carefully lower the rack with the  jars into the hot water bath. Wait until the water comes back to a boil before setting your timer for 10 minutes.  After 10 minutes, shut off the heat and remove the canner lid but leave the jars in the hot water for another 5 minutes.  Then remove jars carefully from the hot water, being careful not to tilt them. I like to set them on a clean kitchen towel to soak up the water.  Do not re-tighten the lids.  As the jam cools, you will hear a satisfying “pop” that tells you the lid has popped down and sealed the jar.  Once the jars are completely cool, wipe off any sticky residue than label them with your prettiest labels. Note: I find that many labels are almost impossible to get back off when you want to re-use the jars next summer. Many is the time that I’ve had to whip out a can of WD-40 to get rid of the old label and glue! I see there are now some labels on the market that claim to be easy to remove. However, I simply put the labels on the lids instead of the jars so the problem doesn’t come up.  

Now, set those gorgeous little jars in a pretty little row on your window sill or table where the sun can shine through them. Take a picture, and WOW!   How beautiful is that!?