I’m afraid of making jam.
There, I said it. I once tried to make peach jam for a newspaper column I was writing a couple years ago, and it failed miserably. I’ve never tried since. However, this recipe isn’t technically jam, it’s preserves. That makes it a lot easier and much more fail-proof. It takes about 25 minutes of simmering, a little bit of mashing the cherries, and then – Bam! – you have a delicious spread for your morning toast. It’s sweet, as you would expect cherry preserves to be, but the balsamic vinegar and hint of salt takes it to another level.
Balsamic Cherry Preserves
Makes one small jar (A quart? I’m not entirely sure on measurements here.)
12 ounces sweet cherries (I used frozen)
1 tablespoon water
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
A pinch of salt
Combine the cherries and water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. As the cherries begin to cook, mash them with the kitchen instrument of your choice (mine happened to be a pastry blender, though I would have used my meat mallet if I knew where it was). You want there to be pieces of cherries still swimming around, but not whole cherries.
When the cherries come to a boil, add the sugar, balsamic vinegar, and salt. Reduce the heat to medium-low and let the mixture cook for 20 minutes or so. It should be somewhere between a simmer and a boil.
After 20 minutes, remove the mixture from heat and let it cool. Strain the excess liquid out of the preserves, and spoon it into a small jar. Refrigerate for up to 4 weeks.