Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Cherry Jam With Your Cheese

If you happen to wander down to south west France, then sooner or later the Pyrénées will come into view. At that point, hungry and tired from your journey, you may be tempted to sample some of the local sheep’s milk cheese. Don’t be surprised if you’re offered some jam with it. The black cherry jam of the region is a classic accompaniment to the slightly sharp, rather nutty and definitely delicious cheese.

This is my somewhat anglicised and eccentric version of cherry jam inspired by that region. It makes a fine alternative to membrillo or similar quince jelly or paste. Any good, ripe cherry can be used. I know it’s not very serious jam making but this recipe will make just a single jar. I keep the amount small because cherries can be expensive and, more importantly, because I tend to shove jam to the back of a cupboard and forget about it if I make too much. It’s easy to scale the recipe up, if you want to make more.

I know that if you’re not used to making jam then the setting point can be a concern. The great thing about this jam, though, is that it’s really down to your personal preference how set the jam should be. Soft set jam will spread and scoop nicely rather like a sauce or loose chutney while a firmly set jam will be much more in line with a quince jelly. In other word, this is a pretty worry-free jam; if you get it slightly wrong the result will still be delicious and you can always claim that it was deliberate.

The jam will accompany a cheese from the south west such as Ossau Iraty very well, but it will work with other cheeses too. A slightly sharp flavour in the cheese is best I think. To be honest, this jam also works perfectly well if you don’t have any cheese and just spread it on toast or brioche.
Cherry Jam and Cheese
250 g cherries (this is the weight after the stones have been removed)
130 g granulated sugar
2 tbsp runny honey
juice of ½ lemon
2 tbsp cranberry sauce
½ tsp sloe gin (optional)

Remove the stones from the cherries, then simply mix everything except the sloe gin together in a non-reactive bowl. Cover and leave overnight.

The next day, pour the contents of the bowl into a non-reactive pan and place on a medium heat. Stir frequently to ensure the sugar has dissolved but don’t be too vigorous or the cherries will lose too much of their texture. Bring to the boil and skim any undesirable-looking material from the top. (Don’t overdo the skimming or you’ll start to skim away the flavour). Continue boiling until you reach the setting point; this will probably only take 5 to 10 minutes. I tend to rely on a sugar thermometer these days to find the setting point, but there’s always the saucer in freezer test. (Drop a small amount of the hot jam onto a freezing cold saucer, leave it for a minute or so and push it with your finger. If it wrinkles, then you should be there.)

Take off the heat and stir in the sloe gin, if you’re using it. Let the jam cool a little, pour into a sterilised jar and seal.

12 comments:

  1. Jam with cheese sounds like a delicious idea.
    In the Loire you tend to get your cheese course served with some lettuce, often with rather too much vinegary dressing on it. This sounds so much better!

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  2. Jam - one pot, excellent idea. Especially with cherries, I hate removing stones. Do you think, I could use canned cherries?

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    1. I can't see any reason why canned cherries wouldn't work. If I used canned cherries, though, I'd miss out on the pleasure (childish pleasure, I suppose) of picking them off the trees. I know what you mean about removing stones, though.

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  3. Love the idea of cheese and jam. we're off to SW France in September,so will look out for it.

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    1. September is such an excellent time of year to visit the land of duck and armagnac. I hope you have a great time. Give my regards to the old place.

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  4. Oooo this sounds scrumptious! I love Ossau Iraty and can just imagine how delicious it would be with cherry jam.

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  5. I love this idea! It sounds delicious, I will have to try it. Your jam looks wonderful, the only thing is that I love cherries so much I'm loath to cook anything with them, I just eat them like sweets when they're in season.

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  6. A fool proof jam! I'm in as they'd say on Dragons Den! Many a hot summers day has found me peering over a bubbling pan of fruit with a rather concerned look upon my face!

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  7. Your Jam looks amazing! I can only imagine cherry jam with a wonderful slice of cheese! Delicious!
    Thank you for stopping by and leaving such kind words on my blog. Have a wonderful week.

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  8. Ahh, sloe gin, what a brilliant addition Phil. And jam with cheese is an obvious idea when you think of it - I've just never thought of it.

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  9. I am drooling over this jam Phil, great idea!

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  10. I'm a big fan of james, pastes, jellies etc with cheeses. Nothing more enjoyable that a hard, salty ewe's cheese with a smear of jam and a few walnuts. I think I left a comment on one of your other cherry recipes some time ago. Obviously there's something about you 'cherry writing' that draws me in!

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