1 - 2 pounds fresh cherries
1/2 cup cool water
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
Rinse the cherries well, discarding debris and blemished fruit. Place cherries in a heavy 4 quart pot with one-half cup cool water, cover and bring to a simmer. Cook slowly with the lid ajar for 30 minutes, or until the fruit is soft. Separate the cherry pits and stems from the pulp using a food mill or Kitchen Aid mixer fitted with a fruit strainer (the model pictured in ChezM Blog has been discontinued).
Measure the cherry pulp and set aside half that volume of sugar. Bring the cherry mixture to a simmer in a heavy four quart saucepan. Add the sugar one-half cup at a time, allowing the liquid to regain the boil before adding more. Add the lemon juice and continue cooking and stirring checking to see how the jam coats and falls from the spoon. When your finger leaves a clean trail on the coated spoon and the mixture falls in thick drops from it, the jam is thickened. If the jam begins to stick to the bottom of the pan, it's over-reduced.
Pour the hot jam into a measuring cup to cool for 5 minutes. Stir in the almond extract. Use a preserving funnel to fill hot, sterilized jars to one-quarter inch of the rim. Cover with a new lid and screw on the cap. Invert the jar for fifteen seconds to sterilize the air above the jam, return to upright and set on a rack to cool completely. Store in a cool, dark place and consume within six months for the best flavor. Refrigerate after unsealing the jar.