Cherry-apple jam for cheese, with chilli and black pepper

cherries Summer has suddenly arrived in Rome, after a cool wet spring. Where did May go? I’ve finally excavated my open-toed sandals, and have been eyeing the new summer produce every afternoon while walking home. Little melons, that already smell sweet. Piles of fresh apricots, the first nectarines, tangles of cherries, and the oh-so tempting strawberries – no, most of those are already on their way out. So I bought cherries last night. Last year I made cherry-apple jam with Campari, and it was delicious. However, this time I had in mind a small batch of spicy cherry jam to go with pecorino cheese from Pienza: a jam not too sweet, with a bite, and not too runny.

I’m studying for a French exam, and suspect this jam-making may be part of my procrastination strategy, along with a sudden need to iron, fold linen, scrub sinks….. anything to avoid facing French verbs. At least I am translating in my head while cooking: “J’ai fait la confiture de cerises avec des pommes, du piment et de poivre noir, à manger avec du fromage de la brebis.” 

Cherry-apple jam for cheese, with chilli and black pepper

600g pitted cherries
400g apples (3 medium apples, cored but not peeled)
400g sugar
45g pectin powder
1 1/2 tsp red chilli flakes
1/2 tsp black pepper

Start by sterilizing the jars you’ll use. I just boil clean jars and lids for five minutes or so in a saucepan, and leave them there until needed. Not proper canning, but it works for me. two cherries Rinse and pit the cherries. Have a wide pot ready for the fruit. For the apples (I used three red): core and quarter them but leave peel on. Grate the apple wedges; if there are stubborn strips of peel, just chop those and toss them in the pot. Heat gently for five minutes, and you will see the cherries softening and giving off liquid. Add chill flakes and black pepper: half a teaspoon at a time, please taste your way to adjust the heat, less chilli might suit your tastes. This is medium spicy, but not as hot as my Chilli pepper apple jam. Optional step: with a hand blender, liquidize half of the cherries, it will make the jam more homogenous and red.

Add the pectin and boil two more minutes. Add the sugar and boil five minutes. Remove from the heat, and pour into warm, sterilised jars. Seal. I let mine cool upside down, as that is what my mother does – must ask her why! Label, and store in a cool place. (Or store in your hot Roman kitchen, hoping nothing explodes in the summer heat…. so far, so good.) cherry jam cooling Notes: The pectin/sugar ratio will differ, based on the type you have. See what your pectin packet recommends, the ratios are key here. This is a lot less sugar than was recommended, but these cherries are quite sweet. You might use lemon juice as well, but I used pectin and apples to firm it up a bit.  testing cherry jam
See: not even cool yet, and it is holding its shape well! No danger of this lazily dripping off a piece of cheese. The chilli and pepper flavour does intensify, so use you may want to use less, unless you want cheese jam with quite a kick.
bread with cheddar and cheery jamI tried the jam this morning with freshly baked bread and smoked cheddar (yes, from London) and really enjoyed it. With half a bowl of cherries left, I think this means clafoutis next……

But first, a little more French grammar avoidance: I will watch/listen to “Haute Cuisine”  (Les Saveurs du palais) while ironing. Lovely film, based on the true story of the French president’s first female chef. We need to have vocabulary ready to speak about hobbies at the exam, so what better film to help? Any other suggestions for French culinary films to watch? 

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12 thoughts on “Cherry-apple jam for cheese, with chilli and black pepper

  1. el chino latino cocina

    I have never made a jam, but I really like your combination of ingredients. Do you think these might work well as a chutney? Without the pectin, of course. A spicy Cherry-Apple chutney.

    Reply
    1. krumkaker Post author

      Absolutely! I would use less sugar, of course, and add some vinegar, and maybe an onion, or a zucchini. Try it and see! I am doing much more small batches of jams now, to experiment with a small quantity. Living in the city, it is not like I have buckets of produce like we would on the farm where I grew up. Not so overwhelming as a massive pot of jam or chutney, and if the result is weird, or the jam very runny, I can usually repurpose it to another dish. If it does work, I will make another batch. Let me know how it works for you!

      Reply
  2. Serena

    There is nothing better than home-made jam!!! Everything if so beautiful about it! It is about traditions, family meals, love and beautiful flavours!!! And then you can add an hint of new flavours, which can make a huge difference!…Lovely! 🙂

    Reply
    1. krumkaker Post author

      Many thanks! Yes, I love making jam, and living in Italy means such wonderful fresh fruit. I made freezer jam last night with strawberries and cherries, lovely flavours.

      Reply
      1. Serena

        I know, so many different wonderful flavours 🙂 My parents also have some nice fruits to pick and preserve…My mother was complaining just the other day, that my father is not picking all the cherries in the garden and she can’t make the jam 🙂

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