Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam
As soon as I saw the flowering sage at the farmer’s market, I just knew I had to use it in my entry for The Spice is Right #3: The Perfumed Garden, which called for us to use edible flowers in our cooking. And as I was saying, I have this extreme overabundance of sour cherries right now.
It just amazes me when I see the flowering herbs at the farmer’s markets. I knew that at least some herbs blossom, sort of, because I’ve had sage honey and thyme honey. But since I always kill my plants long before they manage to bloom, it never really clicked for me until I saw those bundles for sale. And I certainly never expected the flowers to actually share the flavor of the leaves I’m used to using. Those little purple sage flowers do add a taste of sage as well as beauty, but I steeped the cherries with bundles of sage leaves as well for a stronger overall melding of flavors. I love the way the flowers look like dark shadows in the jam.
To give credit where it is due, I must admit that I was inspired by the memory of Tania using sage-poached cherries in her salad. That’s one of the best things about food blogging – the way recipes or even flavor pairings evolve as we bounce ideas off of each other in the community.
I’m on a serious home canning kick right now, actually. Our apartment is starting to get over-crowded with jars. Dave and my mother agree that once we’re even more stocked up, we may have to get a table at a farmer’s market and sell a few of these, if only to make space for more.
Sour Cherry Sage Flower Jam
1 quart pitted sour cherries and sour cherry juice
5 C granulated sugar
2 tsp calcium water
2 tsp powdered pectin
2 large handfuls sage leaves
2 1/2 C loosely packed sage flowers
Blend the cherries and juice with the sugar until you have a mush. Rinse off the sage leaves and tie them into one or two bundles in cheesecloth. Bring the cherry mush to a boil with the sage bundles in, then cover and leave to steep, stirring and tasting occasionally, until the sage flavor comes out strongly enough to suit you.
Remove the sage bundles and press to drain as much liquid from them as possible back into the pot. Discard them. Add the calcium water. Bring the mix to a boil, then add the pectin and boil hard for a minute or so, or until you have reached the appropriate gel stage. The easiest way to test this is to have a bowl in the freezer. Drip a few drops of your jam into the bowl and see what the texture is like as it cools. If it wrinkles and moves as a single unit when you nudge it with your finger, it is ready. At that point, remove from heat and stir in the sage flowers.
Pour into sterile canning jars and process in boiling water for at least 15 minutes. As the jars cool, you can hear the lids pop down as the vacuum seal is formed in each.
If you want to make sure the flowers are dispersed throughout the jam instead of just floating at the top, give each jar a shake after it has started to gain some structural integrity but before it has completely gelled.