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Recipe from The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook by Rachel Saunders (Andrews McMeel Publishing, 2010)Bay leaf is tragically underemployed in today's kitchens, but its unique flavor lends itself well to a surprisingly wide range of culinary uses. In Europe, bay leaf and orange flower water were commonly used for centuries to add what was considered an almondy flavor to creams and other desserts.
Place a saucer with five metal teaspoons in a flat place in your freezer for testing the jam later.
- 3 pounds unpitted sweet red cherries
- 1 pound seeded kumquats, sliced crosswise into very thin rounds
- 2 pounds white cane sugar
- 3 1/2 ounces strained freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 2 large bay leaves
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cherries, kumquat rounds, sugar, and lemon juice, stirring well to combine. Let the mixture macerate at room temperature for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. After 45 minutes, transfer the mixture to an 11- or 12-quart copper preserving pan or a wide nonreactive kettle. Add the bay leaves. Place the pan over medium-low heat and cook, stirring constantly with a heatproof rubber spatula. After a few minutes, when the mixture begins foaming a little around the edges, gradually raise the heat to high, stirring often.
Boil vigorously, gently scraping the bottom of the pan with your spatula every minute or two to be sure the mixture is not sticking. If it begins to stick, decrease the heat slightly, being sure the jam remains at a rapid boil. Continue to cook, stirring and scraping frequently, until the mixture acquires a darker, shinier look, about 15 minutes total. At this point, remove the pan from the heat and let the jam rest for 1 to 2 minutes, discarding any cherry pits that may have found their way into the mixture. Return the jam to the heat and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, then test it for doneness. While you are testing, use a metal spoon to carefully scrape all the white foam from the top of the mixture and discard.
To test the jam for doneness, carefully transfer a small representative half-spoonful of jam to one of your frozen spoons. Replace the spoon in the freezer for 3 to 4 minutes, then remove and carefully feel the underside of the spoon. It should be neither warm nor cold; if still warm, return it to the freezer for a moment. Tilt the spoon vertically to see how quickly the jam runs; if it runs slowly or not at all, and if it has thickened to a gloppy consistency, it is done. If it runs very quickly or appears watery, cook it for another couple of minutes, stirring, and test again as needed. When the jam is ready, stir it briefly to evenly distribute the cherries, then pour it into sterilized jars and process according to the manufacturer's instructions or as directed on page 42.
Approximate Yield: seven 8-ounce jars Shelf Life: 8 to 10 months