Cherry Jam and three months in Tuscany
Where is home? It’s always been a complicated question for me. I never spent very long in one country when I was growing up, living back and forth between Australia and China then going off to study in the US. In fact, the longest I have ever spent living in one place, one country, at one time is Florence. Seven years.
Although for the last couple of years I’ve been living in my home country, I still feel most at home still in Florence. It’s our last week here after a lovely, long 3 month stay, which of course went by too quickly. We visited friends, ate plenty of gelato and our body weight in artichokes. Our toddler learned Italian, we did our weekly shopping at the farmers markets and ate in our favourite restaurants, just as we are used to. We even managed to find time to squeeze in some trips to San Gimignano, Maremma, Argentario, Rome and Venice to see friends.
Just as we’re about to return to autumn over there on the other side of the world, the weather finally decided to burst into spring and radiate its relentless Tuscan warmth over us. So before we have to start rugging up and thinking about warming soups, the morning frost and sitting in front of the fire, I’m making the most of early summer fruit while I can. Apricots are being inhaled. Strawberries too.
The first of the good cherries have started appearing. They’re still a little expensive, so I can’t help but feel a little decadent making them into jam. But cherry jam is just divine. It would be wonderful on this cherry jam and ricotta crostata I posted for my Regional Italian Food column for Food52 this week (inspired by our trip to Rome in April). You could also make a classic jam crostata like this one. Or simply swirl into some yoghurt or ice cream.
The raw sugar gives this jam a deep colour and a slight caramel-like flavour but you can also use white sugar if you prefer. A good reference to look at too is David Lebovitz’s post on making cherry jam without a recipe.
Cherry jam – Marmellata di ciligie
Makes 2 small jars
1 kg cherries
1 whole lemon, zest and juice
300 grams of raw sugar
Pit the cherries. If you’re doing this without a cherry pitter this can be a little laborious — use a sharp knife, cut the cherries in half, remove stems and pull out the pit. Place the pitted cherries, lemon juice and zest in a large pot. Cook over low-medium heat for about 20 minutes or until the cherries are soft. Add sugar, then cook on med-high heat until thick bubbles appear. A simple saucer test is the best way to tell if the jam is ready — place a saucer in the freezer, place a teaspoon of the jam on the cold saucer and wait a few moments for it to cool. Touch it with your finger and if the jam wrinkles, it’s ready. Seal in clean jars.