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Wishna - Middle Eastern Sour Black Cherry Jam

2 lbs. pitted sour or morello cherries (pitted weight)
4-5 cups sugar, or to taste
Juice of 1/2 lemon (optional)

Layer the pitted cherries and sugar in a large glass or earthenware
bowl, and leave them to macerate overnight. The following day, pour
the cherries and juice into a large pan and bring to the boil very
slowly, stirring frequently to prevent them from burning. Let the
cherries simmer in their own juice for about 1/2 hour, or until
very soft, adding a little water only if necessary. If the syrup
is still too thin at the end of the cooking time, remove the cherries
carefully to glass jars with a flat perforated spoon and simmer
the syrup for a few minutes longer until it coats the back of a
spoon. The juice of 1/2 lemon is sometimes added during the cooking.

Pour into clean, heated glass jars and close as usual.

If sour cherries are not available, you can make a very good, though
not, to my taste, as wonderful, jam with ordinary sweet cherries.
Dried sour cherries, available in some Greek groceries, also make
an excellent jam. Soak them in enough cold water to cover for at
least 24 hours. Drain and pit them. Then drop them into a boiling
syrup made by simmering 4 cups sugar with 3-3/4 cups water and a
little lemon juice for a few minutes. Simmer gently until the
cherries are soft, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon to
prevent them from burning. Lift the cherries out of the syrup with
a flat perforated spoon and pack them into clean, heated glass
jars. Cover with the syrup, which has been simmered for a few
minutes longer to thicken and reduce it. Close up as usual.

Serve as a dessert with thick cream, or plunge a tablespoonful into
a glass of iced water, then drink the syrupy water and eat the
fruit left at the bottom.


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