Sour Cherry Jam Recipe

cherries in the sink

I had grand plans for sour cherries this year. I knew that the sweet cherry crop had been bad, so when Mood’s Farm Market opened their u-pick sour cherry picking, I went the second day of the season. My thinking was that if I got there early, I’d get enough cherries to keep my in jam and pie-filling for the year. However, when I walked into the farmstand and asked to pick sour cherries, the 15 year old behind the counter just shook her and said, “you’re not going to find much.”

I told her I’d just do my best, and she shrugged her shoulders at me and wrote out the picking permit. As soon as I pulled up to the orchard, I could see she hadn’t been joking. In just over 24 hours, the sour cherry orchard had been picked nearly clean. Grabbing my bucket and step ladder, I began to wander, hoping I’d find a few pockets of cherries left.

10 cups pitted cherries

I spent a bit over an hour out in the orchard, gazing at trees with an upturned head. I went up and down that step ladder at least 100 times, each time repositioning it to grab a bit more fruit. It was hard work, and yet it was also wonderful. All the stretching and bending, it felt like the most productive and delicious yoga I’d ever done.

I went home that night with scant four pounds of cherries, which rapidly became three pints of jam. However a lucky thing happened as I was making the jam. I happened to broadcast my disappointment with the slim haul on Twitter. Some friends saw it and invited me to pick some cherries from the trees in their community garden, which happened to be dripping with fruit. With Angie’s help, I found myself with ten more pounds. Jams and pie filling galore!

pits

It might sound like I went to an awful lot of trouble for some sour cherries, but if you’ve tasted jams or baked goods made with little gems, you’ll know that the effort was well worth it. The flavor is bright, tangy (not sour exactly, just perfectly piquant) and, when combined with a bit of sugar, quite heavenly. I’ve been eating the jam stirred into plan yogurt (you might have picked up on the fact that yogurt is one of my favorite vehicles for jam) and I have six pitted pounds in the freezer, waiting to become pie filling at some later date – I plan on using this recipe as my starting place.

sour cherry jam bubbling away

Now, time is beginning to run out on sour cherries, but you can still get them if you look carefully. Here in Philly, Beechwood Orchards still has them (at least they did today at the Rittenhouse Market) and from what I hear, more northernly climates are just getting them in. Sometimes you can even get them frozen, which, if you’ve got a sour cherry tooth like I do, isn’t such a bad way to go.

I do believe that it’s time to offer up another giveaway. This time, I only have a four ounce jar on offer (I’m telling you, this stuff is precious to me), but it should be enough to firmly plant the flavor in your taste brain and make you jones for more. Leave a comment by Friday, July 10 at 5 p.m. if you want a chance to win. One entry per person, winner will be selected via the random number generator.

And on to the recipe…

squishing sour cherreis

Sour Cherry Jam Recipe

Yield: Approximately Three Pints

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds of pitted and mashed sour cherries, which should yield about six cups of jammable fruit
  • 3 cups sugar
  • 1 packet liquid pectin (that's half a box)

Instructions

  1. Put three pint jars or six half pints (or some combintion thereof) in your canning pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Combine fruit and sugar in a heavy, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and let bubble for a good twenty minutes, occasionally skimming the foam from the surface of the fruit as it develops. Add the pectin and boil for another five minutes. You want to cook it until it looks like boiling sugar - thick and viscous.
  3. Kill the heat, fill your jars, wipe rims, apply the lids and rings and process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and let cool on the countertop. When the jars are cool (I typically wait until overnight), remove the rings and test the seal by picking the jar up by the lid. If it stays put, your jars are good to store indefinitely.
  4. I love the flavor of sour cherries, so I didn't add a drop of extra flavor to this jam. However, you are welcome to spice things up with cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, vanilla or orange (or anything else).
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91 Responses to Sour Cherry Jam Recipe

  1. 51
    Tara says:

    I would love this! :) Then again who wouldn’t. I have been trying to find some cherries here in Iowa, but it seems you have to know someone who owns a tree…………… :(

  2. 52
    laci says:

    i’m obsessed with toast these days, and that yummy jam would make the perfect accoutrement…

  3. 53
    Angie says:

    I used some of the Sour Cherry Jam in a cake at the Community Garden’s picnic…and everyone loved it! :-D

    That jam is absolutely delicious!!!

  4. 54
    rcakewalk says:

    Have you tried using powdered pectin at all? I have to try this because I am completely addicted to tart cherries this year. I happen to have powdered pectin on hand…

  5. 55
    rcakewalk says:

    I did go ahead and get the liquid pectin, and made your recipe… Delicious!!!
    Thanks! I’ll be thinking of you this winter…

  6. 56
    rcakewalk says:

    M,
    I have about 2lbs of cherries left, and I need to use them up before they go south…
    I made your jam, and started some cherry cordial, do you have any ideas for the rest? Have you tried drying them ever? (but I don’t have a dehydrator…). Any ideas are much appreciated!
    R

  7. 57
    Marisa says:

    Hmm. Honestly, when I get to that point with cherries, I just pit and freeze them, and assume that I’ll figure out some other use for them later in the year.

    I don’t have a dehydrator, so I’ve never tried drying cherries. If you’re curious about that though, I’d suggest taking a peek at http://www.dorisandjillycook.com, Doris often dries fruit so she’s got some helpful advice.

  8. 58
    Sue says:

    We are making a batch right now! Door County, Wisconsin is having the best cherry season every. I’ve got 2 pounds steeping in vodka, 4 pounds being made into jam. 5 or 6 pounds in the freezer and about 2 cups for breakfast in the morning.

  9. 59
    Sue C says:

    I made a batch of your cherry jam last night (our cherry season is late). I used half a packet of powdered pectin and it worked just fine. Your recipe was easy to follow and yielded excellent results. Thank you!

  10. 60

    [...] in a store of chocolate, coffee, eggs, a flourless Gâteau à l’Orange et au Gingembre, and sour cherry jam. We take off towards the Black Forest, with Francy happily batting ferociously at the ball fringe, [...]

  11. 61
    Livia says:

    So I’m looking at the picture with your hands, and I’m wondering whether I have to worry about the skins at all. Or will it all just end up smooth and tasty?

    Would lime be too strong a flavor to add? I ended up not using as many as I’d planned in the rhubarb chutney.

  12. 62

    [...] (who loved on my Sour Cherry Jam) and Cari (who’s just getting started canning) are our winners this time around. Ladies, [...]

  13. 63
    Terrilynn says:

    I live in Michigan and my 10yr old son has a favroite tree that he loves to climb on or just hang out..yesterday he walks in the house with a handfull of these little dark red beauties..we ate one and sure enough its a sour cherry! we all love to have some jam on r toast…the good kind of corse :)… and I would love to suprise him with some homemade jam right from his tree..and I cant wait to use ur recipe..though I have never canned before so this will be a new expierece for me but I am ready for the challenge! Thanks so much for sharing xoxoxox Terrilynn

  14. 64
  15. 65
    Krystyna says:

    Marisa, I find that cherry pitters decimate the fruit by pushing the pit through the entire fruit. I go the low-tech route with a closed safety pin. I boil the safety pin to make sure it’s sterile and once it’s cooled, it’s ready for use. The swirled end of the safety pin is inserted into the cherry at the site of the stem and I can extract the pit by pushing it back out towards the point where the stem was.

    The integrity of the fruit’s shape is maintained, less juice is lost, and it’s quicker than any pitter I’ve ever come across.

  16. 66

    [...] cherries? I made jam, er, uhm, preserves of course!  It took a long time and two recipes (one and two) to turn 10 pounds (16 cups!) of cherries into 11 1/2 jars (132 ozs!) of Sour Cherry Jam (I mean [...]

  17. 67
    Kathy says:

    Working on this jam as we speak! Im so excited to have found a recipe that calls for less sugar than most. I love sour cherry jam. Bought a couple little bags at a farmers market and then a dear neighbor brought over four baggies full. I have enough for a recipe and a half! Cant wait to taste it!

  18. 68

    How mashed is “mashed”? I can only see a little of the consistency in the photo so I’m guessing at it and going by how chunky I want the final result to be. Hope that works okay (in terms of creating cooking surface by breaking down the cherries).

    @BarbChamberlain

  19. 69

    [...] fashioned” way). For a great post on the process of making sour cherry jam, check out this Food In Jars blog post. [...]

  20. 70
    Evil Tinkerbell says:

    Quick question for you (hope you can answer it). My mom just picked up 20lbs of frozen sour cherries, but since our regular place wasn’t open she had to buy from somewhere else, and they already have sugar added to them. Apparently the bucket says net 10lbs, 1lb sugar (so 9lbs of cherries and 1 lb of sugar).

    How do you think I should go about compensating for this in my recipes? Obviously acidity and sugar for preservation shouldn’t be an issue, so I’m not worried about spoilage, but I worry that I will over-sweeten. Any suggestions?

  21. 71
    Marci Barton says:

    I have the honor of having my very own cherry tree in my yard. Just harvested 8 pounds last night. I’m making jam today! Usually, I dry them and make pie filling. The birds are eating my cherries as we speak but it is a holiday weekend….

  22. 72

    [...] Sour Cherry Jam from Food in [...]

  23. 73
    Ruth says:

    Sour cherry rhubarb pie is my favorite thing to make with sour cherries. I just picked up a 10 lb container of pitted sour cherries. I will make one batchof jam and then freeze the remainder for pies.

  24. 74
    Jeff Tabels says:

    HHHHEEEEELLLLPPPPP!!!!!!! I tried this as well as a strawberry jam this year using liquid pectin and I can not get it to set up. I now have a case of chunky strawberry & sour cherry syrup. What have I done wrong. This is my 1st full season of preserving and 2 of my biggest projects have produced sub par products.

    • 74.1
      marisa says:

      Jeff, did you use the Certo liquid pectin? I’ve found that it doesn’t work as well as it used to. It could also be that you needed to cook it a bit longer, the times quoted in the recipe above are approximations. Cooking time can vary depending on the amount of water in the fruit, the width of your pan, the humidity in the air and the intensity of your stove. If you are really unhappy with the jam, you can take it out of the jars, recook it with a bit more pectin and rejar it. So sorry that it didn’t set up for you!

  25. 75
    Julie says:

    I am a sour cherry addict. My mother in law gave us a tree when we moved into our house 8 years ago (Okanagan, BC, Canada) We live in orchard paradise. I got my best crop ever this year, about 12 lbs, and have been pitting/jamming/freezing for the last few days. Nothing is better than Sour Cherry Pie. BTW I barely use the pitter for my sour cherries as I can usually pull the pit and stem all at once.

  26. 76

    [...] pints of cherry jam.  2 precious little pints!  I went with the recipe from Food in Jars with mixed success.  I had to cook the jam for longer in order for it to reach the gelling point, [...]

  27. 77
    Celia Husmann says:

    I feel spoiled to have a sour cherry tree in my backyard, it is over-producing this year! Going to give this a shot!

  28. 78

    [...] Sour Cherry Jam from Marisa at Food In Jars Or these yummy desserts from The Garden of Eating: [...]

  29. 79

    [...] half-pints of Sour Cherry Jam (looser from the liquid [...]

  30. 80
  31. 81
    Jane Burbage says:

    Any recommendations for cognac/bourbon/boozy flavours to add to this jam? What about citrus zest or vanilla bean?

  32. 82
    Laura says:

    Just finished making this jam. Didn’t add a thing and the flavor is amazing.
    Best.Cherry.Jam.Evah!

  33. 83
  34. 84
    leesa says:

    Hi Marisa,

    I’ve been using your book and website for a variety of recipes for jam, jellies, chutneys, etc. I have access to two very small sour cherry trees across the street from my house, open for the taking and just waiting (somewhat patiently) for the cherries to ripen.

    I recently made 4 x 125 ml of sour pin cherry and current jelly (along with a handful of raspberries picked from canes that escaped someone’s yard) and it turned out wonderfully. I recently made the switch to Pomona’s Pectin and found it works really well especially since I’ve wanted to cut back on refined sugar. Using raw sugar and honey has worked out nicely.

    Thanks again for all your work on Food in Jars and I use it almost exclusively this year since I’ve had so many great results (the Roseymary Rhubarb jam is AMAZING – I am addicted to rhubarb now).

    :) leesa

  35. 85
    Kristina says:

    Thanks for the recipe! I only had 5 cups of crushed sour cherries/juice and added chopped peaches to make 6 cups. Turned out beautifully! The sour cherry recipe that came with the pectin said 7 cups sugar and 2 pkg pectin for 4 cups fruit. Yours is much more to my liking. It must be the long cooking time that makes the difference. I cooked even longer for high altitude.

  36. 86

    […] Sour Cherry Jam from Food in […]

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