Cherries have such a short season – preserving them in a sugar syrup means you can enjoy them for longer. This is quite a runny preserve, more poached fruit in syrup than a jam. Spoon it over natural yogurt, drizzle the syrup on top of ice cream, or use the cherries and syrup to decorate the top of a Victoria Sponge.
500g fresh cherries, rinsed and stems removed
500g caster sugar (you can use pectin sugar if you wish to get a better ‘set’)
1 tablespoon cold water
Juice of 1 lemon
1. Place the cherries, caster sugar and cold water in a heavy-bottomed pan.
2. Melt the sugar over a gentle heat, stir the sugar and fruit together gently, then turn the heat up to a boil and boil the hell out of the mixture for 9-10 minutes or until the syrup has thickened and the bubbles that appear on the surface are large.
3. Remove from the heat, leave to settle for a few minutes, remove any white scum on the surface or stir it back into the fruit. Add the lemon juice and stir.
4. Ladle the conserve into warm sterilised jars and seal – they will last up to 6 months in a cool place. If you don’t want to keep the cherries, you can store them in a covered bowl in the fridge and use within 2 weeks.
Recipe Variations: Cherry and Vanilla Conserve/Cherry and Rose Conserve
We find that cherries don’t usually need any added flavour because they have such a deep rich flavour. If you want to, add 1-2 teaspoons of vanilla extract or 1/2 teaspoon of rosewater to the mixture after you have removed it from the heat.
We take the easy way out and leave the stones in the cherries – we quite like the sensual experience of popping them out of our mouth – but if you are afraid for your teeth, stone them. (The stones add flavour to the preserve but they do make the cherries trickier to eat.) If you are giving this conserve or a cake filled with it to a child or an older person, stone the cherries.