Kitchen Gifts: Brandy Old Fashioned Jam

When it comes to gift-giving, some of my very favorite items to give are things associated with the kitchen. There's something so personal about giving friends and loved ones something you've taken the time to make with your own hands that will surround them with your own nurturing spirit as they enjoy it. And very few things do that as well as homemade preserves.

The recipe I'm sharing today is a riff on one I found several years back. The original included bitters, which I tend to avoid when making my own brandy old fashioneds because I'm not really a fan of them. Instead, I opted to add a little more in the way of spices and make it my own. The consistency of the jam is thick enough for spreading, but still easily used as a dessert sauce or, if you're like me, something you can add to homemade yogurt for your own fruit-on-the-bottom variation! If you want your jam thicker, opt for less orange juice or - gasp! - less brandy.

Because this jam wants to be refrigerated or frozen until use, keep it on hand for planned giving. It would make a great send-home gift after a Christmas brunch, especially if your guests were lucky enough to enjoy it during the meal as well. Great giving!

Brandy Old Fashioned Jam

  • 16 c. frozen pitted cherries
  • 1 c. orange juice
  • 1/4 c. grated orange zest
  • 3 c. granulated sugar
  • 1 c. packed brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1 tsp. ground cloves
  • 2/3 c. brandy

Place the cherries, orange juice, and orange zest in a large saucepan or kettle over medium high heat. Cook - stirring frequently - until the cherries are soft and juicy. Turn off the stove and, using an immersion blender, blend most of the cherries into a smoother consistency, understanding that some chunks are not only okay, but desired.

Add the sugars, allspice, and cloves to the blended cherries and stir to mix thoroughly. Bring the mixture a boil and continue cooking over medium high heat - stirring often - until the mixture thickens, about 30-40 minutes. Remove the mixture from the heat and stir in the brandy. Ladle the jam into jars and seal tightly with clean rings and lids. Refrigerate if you are planning to use or gift the jam within 2 weeks. Otherwise, freeze the jars until ready to use or gift.

  • Yields: 8 cups
  • Preparation Time: About an hour