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Meliz Berg’s Sour Cherry Jam

Sweet, sticky and slightly tart, this sour cherry jam from Meliz Berg is best enjoyed spread liberally on toast for a simple summer breakfast.

From the book


The flavour of sour cherries takes me straight back to memories of flying to Cyprus as a child, where part of the excitement was knowing that I would be served small cartons of vişne suyu (sour cherry juice) on the aeroplane. Aside from the juice, the beautiful, sticky, sweet yet tart jam that is made when the cherries are in season every year, usually in July and August, would be the next thing I would savour with my fresh simit (a thin and crispy ring-shaped, sesame-seed covered Turkish bread) at the hotel breakfast table. It was my cousin Jeyda who first introduced me to the heavenly combination of sour cherry jam and cream cheese and I can now rarely bake a fresh loaf without slathering pieces of it in this deliciously creamy and sweetly tart duo.

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400g (14oz) pitted sour cherries
325g (11½ oz) caster sugar
½ tsp citric acid or 1tsp lemon juice

Essential kit

You will need: 2 cooled sterilised jars (325g/11½ oz), see note for easy instructions.


Place a saucer in the freezer.

Put the cherries in a large pan, add the sugar and give everything a gentle shake. Place the pan over a medium heat.

Once the sugar starts to dissolve and the fruit begins to release its juices, slowly start stirring. Bring to a gentle boil. The mixture should be bubbling fairly enthusiastically, but do not allow it to spill over – turn the heat down when necessary, but keep stirring every couple of minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Remove the saucer from the freezer and carefully place a tablespoon of the jammy syrup on to it, tilting the saucer away from you, over the pan. If the syrup drips straight back into the pan, then the jam is not ready. If the juices drip slowly, they have suitably thickened and your jam is almost ready. At this stage, add the citric acid or lemon juice to the pan and stir. Turn down the heat for 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.

Give the mixture a final stir and carefully ladle the jam into the sterilised jars. Tightly close the lids and turn the jars upside down for 4 hours until fully cooled, before turning them the right way up.

Store in a cool, dark place (not the fridge as this will set the jam). Once opened, eat within 6 weeks.


This recipe requires cooled, sterilised jars to decant the hot cooked jam into. Preheat the oven to 170°C/150°C fan/325°F/gas mark 3 and wash your jam jars with hot, soapy water. Once the oven is hot, place the jars on to a baking sheet (right side up) and put in the oven on the middle shelf for 20 minutes. While the jars are sterilising in the oven, place a small pan of fresh water over a high heat, and once it starts to boil, carefully drop the jar lids into the very hot water. Keep simmering the lids for 5 minutes, then transfer them with a large, slotted spoon directly to a clean, heatproof plate. Carefully remove the tray from the oven and allow the jars to cool.

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From the book: Meliz’s Kitchen: Simple Turkish-Cypriot comfort food and fresh family feasts

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