One of the most amazing but frustrating things about moving all the time is that I am constantly re-learning local produce. While most of the produce itself has remained the same from city to city and state to state, the timing has shifted a month or two or even three in different climates. But tree fruit. Tree fruit has been the one genre of produce that has just been completely unpredictable as I’ve moved from place to place. DC’s tree fruit scene was insanely awesome. Durham, on the other hand, not so much (though GOD I miss the blueberries.) Columbus had great apples and decent peaches, but not really any cherries or plums to speak of.
Moving back to Colorado, I knew I would return to a land of great, high-altitude peaches from Palisade and other farming communities on the Western Slope. But I did not expect the cherries.
Oh em gee the cherries!
Colorado has had rather a bumper crop this year, and I’m obsessed. For weeks now, I’ve been eating them faster than I can buy them. In fact I COMPLETELY missed strawberry season because I was so distracted by these round little rubies. Which, actually, is fine with me because the cherry is my new number one.
And not just for dessert. I’ve been playing around with this savory cherry jam and I’m kind of really into it. It’s a super-quick roasted refrigerator jam that, aside from pitting a pound of cherries, is pretty hands off. Nice and smoky with a smoked paprika, it’s very, very tasty.
This jam is crazy good on pork chops. I smeared some on crackers with cream cheese while I was stress-eating at work and it was utterly delightful. And my favorite use so far was as a condiment to elevate what was a pretty basic sandwich.
Try it! Love it! Buy a cherry pitter to make even more of it!
Savory Cherry Jam
Adapted from Eating Well
Note: I have not tested the pH of this jam to determine if it is safe for water-bath canning. Stick this is as a fridge jam for now.
1 lb (about 2 cups) sweet cherries, pitted and halved
juice from 1/2 a naval orange (about 1/4 c)
1/2 T fresh thyme (or 1/4 tsp dried)
1/2 tsp smoked paprika
1/4 tsp kosher salt
3-4 cranks freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F. Combine all ingredients in a small baking dish. Roast for 35-40 minutes, stirring several times, until cherries are softened and juices have thickened.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.