July 16, 2015

Cherry Season

In summer, the pleasures are simple, in abundance and all encompassing.
It's cherry season and these days in my kitchen it is all about these beautiful, red, mouthwatering fruits. One of the reasons they taste so delicious is because their season is short and they are around for a limited time during the year. Unlike apples and oranges that can be kept in cold storage, cherries don't last longer and that's why they quickly disappear even from the store shelves. But, to me, the magic of cherries lies in the pleasure of picking your own fruits from the tree. I grew up with this simple joy available to me for free in my grandparents' bountiful garden. And I always wanted for my son to have summer memories of climbing cherry trees, plucking precious rubies off branches – one for the basket, three for the mouth – until he reaches the saturation point when his stomach hurts, his nose is just about to turn red and his sticky hands are stained with dye as the hands of a most famous painter. 
On Sunday, we headed to Bizjak Farms in Vineland, Niagara region. Is is a family farm in operation since 1973. Using sustainable farming practices, Bizjak Farm specializes in growing chemical-free, tree-ripened fruit and preserving soil integrity with natural fertilizers. I met the farmer at a farmer's market in my neighbourhood in Toronto during the week and when I learned they grow black sweet cherries and white cherries and the fruits are available for picking your own, I promised to go there on the weekend. We do not mind driving 2 hours to buy local products and support organic farming. However, the best part of our trip was to find a remote farm only with lines of cherry trees and fields of raspberries (which weren't ready yet). No petting zoos, corn mazes, playgrounds or jungle gyms. Only fruit trees, baskets, ladders and picnic tables. A simple, honest, true farm to table food experience. Even our teenager, who wasn't very sure it was going to be fun, admitted that it was one absolutely perfect summer day of picking cherries, picnicking with them along cheese, pâté and baguette and of course, visiting a winery, because is is a crime to be in Vineland (Wine Country in Ontario) and to not enjoy the extensive portfolio of premium wines, made by the masters of the craft. 
At home, while I was making jam, summer permeated the room together with sweet childhood memories and idyllic images of my mom and her mom, both working women, canning and pickling every possible summer fruit and veggie that grows not only in their garden, but also in the gardens of friends, neighbours and relatives. They've never stopped doing it; even when my grandma is unable right now, my mom continues to try new recipes and improve old once. Jellies, jams, compotes, relishes, sauces and juices - preserving the elixir of summer for the cold winter days. In a very small scale, I am keeping the tradition of homemade jam alive because there is something very satisfactory about picking fruit with your own hands and creating your own product by putting your heart into it. And because jam, I guess, is rich in nostalgia.
It is the simple things, after all, that give us the most pleasure and help us appreciate all that we are blessed with.        

Cherry Jam

(make about 3 jars of 500ml)


2 kg. cherries, steams and pits removed
1 kg. sugar (could be less, depends on preference for sweetness)
finely grated zest and juice of 1 lemon
1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract


Wash freshly picked cherries and remove the pits. Put the pitted cherries in a pot and add the sugar and the lemon. Stir well, cover the pot and leave for 15-20 minutes in order for the cherries to absorb the sugar and  release their juice.
Add 1/2 cup of water (you can add more or less water, depends on how thick you want your jam to be). Cook the cherries by stirring frequently until they are wilted and completely soft, which may take about 30-40 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and leave to cool slightly.
Pour jam in sterilized glass jars. If you want to keep them in the pantry, you will needs to seal jars by placing in boiling water for 5-6 minutes.

         What is your favourite summertime jam? 


  1. Ohhhhhh, the vanilla in this recipe seals the deal for me, sylvia!!! There is nothing better than from farm to table. The taste and health benefits outweigh the "convenience" of store bought products. Ohhhh the deep color of this jam is beautifully captured!

  2. I love cherry season! I also love your wonderful photos as always!

  3. Силвия, блогът Ви е изключително приятен, интересен и красив! Аз съм начинаещ фотограф и Вашите снимки са стила, който най-много ми допада. В друг Ваш пост прочетох, че сте изучавала фотография. Бихте ли могла да ми препоръчате книги, някакви онлайн уроци или лекции?
    Благодаря и желая вдъхновение!

  4. So beautiful, I can almost
    taste it : ) Looks like a perfect
    day....Can't believe how grown
    up your son looks. Is he off to
    university this fall?

    Enjoy that wonderful jam and
    your precious memories, Sylvia!

    xo Suzanne

  5. What an exquisite post (as always)! I can taste it from here :)


  6. Your visit to Vineland is just the sort of day I would cherish. You capture it so well, and the memories of your mother and grandmother working together in the kitchen making jam so...well, your writing is exquisite. Photos stunning.

    I'm so keen on making this jam, I love cherries like you. Is there a method of getting those pits out?

    Thank you for another magical post. dear friend.

    Jane x

    P.S. Your son is looking very handsome-I'm guessing he has a few girls scouting him out!! :)

  7. Sylvia, your lovely and evocative post brings back many happy summer memories! Growing up, we had a peach tree with the best peaches in the world and a big raspberry patch. I have the best memories of eating homemade raspberry jam (my mom made dozens of jars) in peanut butter sandwiches, on toast, on scones, and of making every sort of dessert with both raspberries and peaches (ice cream, cobbler, crisps, etc.). Your photos are lovely.

  8. I will feature this today at HSH! Gorgeous Sylvia!!

  9. Wow, your photography is stunning! Thank you for joining Sundays at Home!

  10. Just discovered your blog and love it! I love cherries and this jam sounds wonderful! I make strawberry jam but cherry would be much better!

  11. Very informative, keep posting such good articles, it really helps to know about things.

  12. Oh Sylvia, you are an artist.

    I look at your photos and the first thing that comes to mind is that I want to emulate your style...forgive me, let me correct myself. I do not want to imitate, but rather effectively use the DEVICES of good and real photography as you do here: LIGHT AND SHADOW. I see you have an extra pair of hands to help you.....I don't. I've been trying to take photos all by myself this summer, but it would be great to have a model, someone to hold a bouquet of flowers against my neighbor's broken down but GORGEOUS white, chippy garage wall, but I can't find anyone to help me! However, the things I've learned through trial and error this summer have been valuable, and I can see that you use your refined eye to find just the right angles. And the result? A mood. A desire to make cherry jam. A feeling of waking up early at lakeside.

    Like my study of poetry, now my study of photography is pointing me toward a higher goal: to move my audience to a mood. And you do that well.



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