22 June 2009

Cherry preserves, and a pastel

I'm making cherry preserves this morning. It's the season. I picked about 4 lbs. of cherries yesterday. I swore I wouldn't make jam this season, because I still have a lot of jars of plum jam and apple jelly left from 2007 and 2008. But these are cherries — and I can't resist.

The recipe I'm using is pretty elaborate. It's from a book by Christine Ferber called Mes confitures (1997, 2002), which has an introduction by Alain Ducasse, no less. The cherries I have are pretty sour.

The recipe says to de-stem and pit the cherries, which I did yesterday afternoon, after I picked them. That was the tedious part. The cherries I'm using are very fragile and juicy, and the way I pitted them was by squeeze each cherry to make the pit pop out. A lot of juice was squirting in every direction — on my clothes, my glasses, and in my hair, not to mention on the table and on CHM and WCS, who were also sitting at the table.

The cherry pulp after the first cooking, with the juice strained off

The recipe calls for:
  • 2¼ lbs. pitted cherries (1 kg)
  • 1¾ lbs. sugar (800 g)
  • 1 small lemon (juice only)
  • 7 oz. green-apple jelly (200 g)
As I pitted the cherries, I saved as much juice as I could by collecting it and the pits in a bowl and then pouring all that through a strainer, back into the pitted cherries, and rubbing the pits around in the wire strainer to try to remove any cherry flesh and juice that was clinging to them. When I finished, I had 1.7 kg (a little less than 4 lbs.) of cherries and juice.

The preserves ready for putting up in sterilized jars

I recalculated ingredient quantities by multiplying them all by 1.7 because that's the weight of the cherries I was working with.To the pitted cherries, then, I added the juice of one large lemon and 1.350 kg of sugar, or 3 lbs. I let the sugar and fruit macerate together at room temperature for an hour, as specified in the recipe.

Using a jelly funnel to fill the jars

Then I put it all in a pot on the stove, brought it to the boil, and let it simmer for 5 minutes. After that, it cooled and spent the night in a cool place, right in the pot.

This morning, I poured the cherries through a fine strainer to separate the fruit from the juice. I added 12 oz (by weight) of jelly made from green apples to the cherry syrup, poured all that back into the pot and put it on to boil until it reached 225ºF. At that point, I added the cherries back in and let it simmer for five minutes, stirring it carefully. Then it was ready to put into sterilized jars.

Five jars of cherry preserves

Let's hope it's good. Actually, how could it not be?

* * *

Yesterday, CHM gave me a copy of an image showing one of his uncle's pastels. The uncle was the son of CHM's grandfather, who painted the canvas that hangs in the chapel of the château at Blois.

CHM says his uncle's pastels are reminiscent of Gustave Courbet's pastels. I'll let him put more information in comments if he wants to.


  1. That pastel and others in my possession make you think of landscape paintings by Courbet and also of painters of the Barbizon school, especially Corot. Their size is usually 25X15 inches.

  2. That pastel is very, very pretty and very french.
    Cherry jam is one of my favorite; you guys are so lucky to live in such a beautiful environment.
    Good luck with the deck!

  3. My mother always used the round end of a hair pin to pit cherries. I use the small part of a paper clip and it just scoops out the pit without squirting juice all over the place.

  4. Stoning cherries is a messy business, but essential for jam! You can make guignolet with the stones and some of the leaves:


    When I've made it I have used rosé rather than red wine, but it's good either way. You can use whole guignes rather than just the stones if you want. And then you can use the guignolet to make this:

  5. Oh, my my my... that is another very lovely work. CHM, thanks for sharing more with us. Do you know where that scene is?

    Ken, ooooooooh, sounds like fun (even if it's lots of work) making those cherry preserves! Looks great!


  6. I'd love to know how you keep the dratted birds away from the cherrys.

    We don't get a look in with ours.

    Lovely photographs,


  7. Merci CHM for this lovely pastel.

    Whilst the colours of the canvas from your grand-papa at the Chateau de Blois reminds one of the colours of the "Burial at Ornans", this pastel from your uncle makes me think of "A Thicket of Deer at the Stream of Plaisir-Fontaine" that one can view at the musée d'Orsay ( a huge canvas btw)

  8. The Beaver,
    My other grand-father, who was a wood engraver, engraved the "Remise des Chevreuils au Ruisseau de Plaisir-Fontaine", by Courbet, as well as the painting by my other grand-father that Ken posted day before yesterday.

  9. At Saturday's farmer's market a weary cherry farmer tried to convince me to buy his last 20 pounds of cherries, so he could pack up and go home... now I wish I had!

    Thank you, CHM, for the pastel and information. I thought of Corot also. Just beautiful.

  10. I love the pastel! And yummy cherries. Can't go wrong, you're right!

  11. Food for the body and food for the soul - a great post! Thank you Ken and CHM.

    I will be sure to check out "A Thicket of Deer at the Stream of Plaisir-Fontaine" at the Orsay in Oct.


  12. I've been eating cherries, but we have to get them at the supermarket, because cherries do not grow in my part of the world, unfortunately!

    I've been thinking to myself that I'm going to have to do something like this with all the figs that are going to ripen at the same time on my little tree in about two months. Fig preserves with lemon are quite tasty, but I've still got some left from last year!

    Enjoy the fruits of your labor....I'm sure they will be delicious!


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