Spiked Cherry Conserve

Besides the strawberry jams I made early on in the summer, I have not canned any preserves.  (Please check out my Strawberry-Lemon Marmalade and my Balsamic-Basil Strawberry Jam.)

After I found some cheap cherries, that all changed.  Once again, that handy little cherry pitter came in handy.

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Spiked Cherry Conserve
Based on Brandied Red Cherry Conserve from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook

3 lbs. pitted sweet red cherries
1 1/4 lbs. sugar
3 oz. fresh lemon juice
2 oz. dried cherries
1/2 lb. dried pineapple, diced
2 1/2 oz. cognac
3-4 drops almond extract
3 cloves

Combine half of the cherries with 10 oz. of the sugar and 1 1/2 oz. of lemon juice in a large kettle.  Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently, and cook until the cherries have softened, about five minutes.

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Turn off the heat and let the cherries rest for 5 minutes.   Put the mixture in a food processor and puree mixture.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherry puree with the remaining cherries, remaining sugar (10 oz.), and remaining lemon juice (1 1/2 oz).   Add the dried cherries, pineapple, cognac, and almond extract.   Stir well to combine.   Let the mixture macerate at room temperature for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.   (I just throw everything back in the cooking kettle and let it set.)

After 45 minutes, place mixture back in the cooking pan.   Put the cloves into a tea ball and add to the mixture.   (Make sure the spices are submerged.)   Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring often.

Boil while gently scraping the bottom of the pan every few minutes so mixture won’t stick.  Continue to cook, watching the mixture closely, until the conserve acquires a darker, shinier look, about 20 minutes.   (Start water bath in a canner with rack.)

Remove from heat.

Pour into sterilized jars (about six 8-oz jars for this recipe.   Place on sterilized lids and screw on rings.   Place in water bath making sure that the tops of the jars are covered with water.  Process for 10 minutes.

Carefully remove and let sit, undisturbed, over night.   Check to make sure that each jar has sealed.  (If you have a jar that doesn’t seal, just pop it into the fridge for storing and eat it immediately.)


Right after I found these cheap cherries, the pests began to arrive in our yard.   Luckily, I was able to salvage a bucket full of peaches from one of our trees (that didn’t drop all its leaves this summer) right before the Japanese beetles attacked.  I made two batches of Spiced Peach Jam.

Then, I looked out the window one morning and saw an entire unkindness of ravens under our honeycrisp apple tree.  (Okay,  I may be exaggerating a bit here but there were at least four of these avian thieves under the tree.)  One was actually tossing apples down to the others on the ground.   I quickly went out and shooed them away, picked the entire tree clean and came in to make Apple Marmalade.

Since I pride myself in giving homemade jam for gifts during the holidays, I think that I might need to revisit some specialty jams this fall like Lavendar-Wine Jelly or Garlic-Rosemary Jelly.

At least I have a few of these little jars to give out.


Note:  If you love to make jam, you must buy yourself a copy of Rachel Saunder’s Blue Chair Jam Cookbook.   I was lucky enough to get it as a gift a couple years ago.  I love it.   I have used Saunder’s recipes many times and they always inspire me to get into the canning mood.  

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For all of my posts inspired by Saunder’s, please click here.  

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