Cherry Meyer Lemon Preserves

It’s summer and the Can Jam is gaining momentum. There’s been a lot of excitement about this month’s ingredient, which is anything to do with “erries.” That means berries — and cherries, too. I decided to start my “erry” week with Cherry Meyer Lemon Preserves. We’re rolling in cherries, and June is a fine month for Meyer lemons in the Bay Area — particularly in the foggy East Bay.

I’ve wanted to try this mix for a couple years, ever since I saw a Ball Blue Book recipe for cherry marmalade that looked friendly and adaptable. My only warning is that you’ve got to be a sweet lover to want this one, even though I slightly reduced the amount of sugar called for by the recipe. When I took the mixture off the heat, my first thought was “Well, if I wanted Pop Tart filling, I would have gone down to 7-11 and bought some.” But Frosted Cherry has always been my favorite Pop Tart flavor, so I was not overly concerned.

After the mixture cooled and the flavors had a chance to settle, I kept catching myself with a spoon in the jar. It’s pretty darned good. I think it has something to do with the lemons. I subbed Meyers for the original recipe’s orange, and as the citrus gave more of its tartness to the mix, the sweetness mellowed considerably.

Finally, though the Blue Book calls its recipe a marmalade, my version yielded whole cherries and sliced citrus peel in a very heavy syrup, which is why I’m calling it a preserve. I don’t think there’s anything I could have done to morph this into a traditional marmalade jelly — not one that I would want to eat, anyway. When I tested the mixture on a cold spoon, it was quite thick with a little wrinkling. Done. Taking into account both texture and sweetness, this definitely isn’t an on-your-toast marmalade; it’s a luscious preserve to spoon over yogurt, ice-cream, or some nice, warm baked thing. (I wish I’d had a nice, warm baked thing for the photo below, but I trust you’ll get the idea.)

Cherry Meyer Lemon Preserves

1 quart cherries (I used 2/3 Utah Giant and 1/3 Ranier, both grown in California — go figure)
2/3 cup sliced Meyer lemon (original recipe called for orange)
3 cups sugar (original recipe called for 3 1/2 cups)
1/4 cup lemon juice

1. Sterilize your jars and put 5 teaspoons on a plate in the freezer, to test your preserves for doneness later.

2. Finely the slice lemons. I recommend the method described in How to Slice Citrus Fruit for Marmalade.

3. Pit the cherries. (There was a whole lot of Twitter chatter about cherry pitters this month. You can find a variety of first-rate options, including one restaurant-quality pitter costing an astonishing $72.95, at Lehman’s Non-Electric. I tease about some of their eyebrow-raising pitter prices, but I do love Lehman’s catalog. They’ve got just about everything you could want for your canning kitchen.)

4. Combine all ingredients (pitted cherries, lemon slices, sugar, lemon juice) in large glass or ceramic bowl and let sit for an hour at room temp while you’re sterilizing your jars or whatnot. The fruit will begin to soften and release some juice and, as described by Well Preserved, your preserves will be a bit brighter in the end.

5. Transfer mixture to jam pan and boil to the jelling point. For me, using a large stainless steel pan, it took only 10 minutes or so to cook this mixture. It was fast.

To test for doneness: Remove the pan from the heat. Use one of your frozen spoons to scoop up a little bit of the mixture — not a whole spoonful. Return the spoon to the freezer and wait 3 minutes. Retrieve the spoon and hold it vertically. If the mixture runs very slowly or not all, it’s done. Alternately, give the mixture a little push with your finger. If you see creases or wrinkles, it’s done.

6. Ladle the hot preserves into sterilized jars and process 10 minutes in a hot-water bath. Yields 3-4 half-pint jars.

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21 comments to Cherry Meyer Lemon Preserves

  • Denise | Chez Danisse

    I think I'd really love the combination of cherry and Meyer lemon. Excellent idea, better than orange! Thanks.

  • Julia

    Beautiful, as always. I was thinking of some mixture of lemons and berries, but went the straight and narrow with my beloved Meyers that someone so thoughtfully sent me. What cherry pitter did you go with?

  • Marsha

    Wow. that's beautiful. Really, really lovely. Thanks for sharing it – I've included a link back here from the Hot Water Bath facebook group, too, so others can see it.

    I don't get Meyer Lemons where I live, but it's nice to dream about what I could do if there were some around!

  • Jane

    I'm going to be tring this one.

  • Kate

    I just dribbled some preserved Meyers' juice on my dinner salad.

    I bet that combo is divine. It sure looks purdy!

  • Shae | Hitchhiking to Heaven

    Denise: I would love to see what you would do with cherries and Meyers. I know it would be rich.

    Julia: Ha! I have a $2.99 cherry pitter from I don't remember where. It does the job, but jeez does it take a long time to pit just a quart of cherries.

    Marsha: Thank you! I look forward to checking out the HWB group on FB.

    Jane: I'm excited that you want to try the recipe. I hope you'll report back about how it goes.

    Kate: Meyers are the best. And I'm glad you ate a salad. Maybe it will soak up some of the sugar from this afternoon!

  • tigress

    i declare this summer, the summer of PRESERVES! we have to! it's all about seeing the sexy curve-of-the-fruits lolling about in a just right thickened syrup. i'm all over it!

    looks lovely!

    …am i getting carried away?

  • Kate

    YEAH Tigress! Summer of Preserves, count me in!!!

  • meg

    Somehow I missed this initially…wowsa. Looks awesome!I'm with tigress on this one….the preserves are s-e-x-y!

  • Shae | Hitchhiking to Heaven

    Tigress, Kate, Meg: How about the summer of sexpot preserves? Let's go with it!

  • Anonymous

    Hey, this is picklepocket from twitter…you know, one thing I was thinking about that I did also, was used my potato masher to crush the cherry's halfway through the cooking time. I didn't want a whole cherry marmalade, so I crushed them up a bit. Still has a great texture, but made it much more smooth and thick. Anyway, I'm going to do version 2.0 this week (with the addition of plums) and use less sugar and more orange. I'll let you know how it is!

  • anne

    You came a few weeks ago and raided my back yard in Kensington for meyer lemons-20 of them- and paid for them with a small jar of jam- delishious[sp?]. When can I expect or buy more? I gave your address to the man who organizes the farmers market on Sundays, and I believe he will be calling you to participate. Anytime you wish to take more lemons be my guest.
    Thank you- I love barter. Anne

    • Shae

      Thank you, Anne! I’m so glad you got in touch, and I’ll send you an email to work out future trades. You know you have my favorite tree. :-)

  • [...] now I knew I would be craving it in a few months. Hence, a preserve. I came upon Shae’s Cherry Meyer Lemon Preserves but wasn’t sure if I could even find cherries in Connecticut in mid-February, and even if I [...]

  • Sharie

    I made some of this marmalade today…I went cherry picking in Brentwood and had bookmarked this page to try it. I used even less sugar, and it’s still pretty sweet, but boy is it GOOD! Thanks for sharing. I made enough for me, to mail to my parents, and also a friend in NYC. I used one of those egg smusher things to break the cherries up a bit, too, so they’re still pretty whole but not entirely whole.

    Thanks!!!!!!

    • Shae

      Thanks for letting me know, Sharie! I’m going to make more this month, too. Did yours come out firmer, like a marmalade, or more like a soft preserve?

  • [...] I picked plenty to share and eat and preserve – 21 pounds to be exact! Though I did make a cherry meyer lemon preserve my main concentration was on brandying cherries. In the winter I made a batch of dried brandied [...]

  • Amanda

    What do you think of subbing the cherries for blackberries? I still have 2 gallons in my freezer, and I just bought a few pounds of meyers today. I’m looking for something delicious to do with them :)

    • Shae

      Hi Amanda: I’m two days late, so I wonder if you’ve already made a decision about your Meyers? Personally, I wouldn’t be inclined to sub blackberries for cherries in this particular preserve, but that’s my taste. It seems like there would be a lot going on: lots of Meyer rind with lots of blackberry seed, and lots of lemon tartness with lots of blackberry richness. I like the cherries here — or strawberries with Meyers — because those fruits lend a smooth, lush quality to the lemons. That said, blackberry and lemon (or lime!) together can be an awesome thing. I like how Kaela did it here, in a preserve where the blackberries dominate and the lemon provides a bright accent: http://localkitchenblog.com/2011/08/18/blackberry-lemon-preserves/. All that said, if you already did it — or if you do — please report back. And have fun!

  • Amanda

    Shae! Thanks for the feedback. Kaela’s recipe also looks wonderful. I might try it both ways :) yes, I do have that many blackberries in my freezer still haha. Will report back with how it turns out.

  • [...] decided whether to make Vanilla Garlic’s Kiwi Lemon Jam or Hitchhiking to Heaven’s Cherry Meyer Lemon Preserves with Raspberries instead. Or both. Any other Meyer Lemon suggestions are welcome! If I have any [...]