Sour Cherry Preserves with Bourbon

It’s day two of cherry week and today, I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes from my second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint. For this one, you simmer sour cherries together with sugar, lemon juice, and bourbon together for five or six minutes, until the liquid thickens a little and the cherries are just soft. The alcohol cooks off as the syrup boils, so there’s no lingering booziness, just a little extra richness that helps balance the flavor of the tart cherries.

This exact recipe doesn’t work well with sweet cherries, but one could add a splash of bourbon to this approach, to approximate the flavor.

Make sure to check back tomorrow for another recipe featuring cherries!

Bourbon Sour Cherry Preserves

Yield: makes 2 to 3 half pints


  • 1 1/2 pounds sour cherries, pitted
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons bourbon


  1. Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 3 half pint jars.
  2. Place the pitted cherries in a pan that holds at least five quarts (these cherries will foam a lot) and add the sugar, lemon juice, and bourbon. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.
  3. Once the contents of the pan look juicy, place it on the stove over high heat.
  4. Bring the cherries and their liquid to a boil and let them cook at a good clip for 5 to 6 minutes, until cherries soften a little and the liquid in the pan as thickened a bit.
  5. Remove pan from heat, funnel cherries and syrup into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Use a wooden chopstick to remove any trapped air bubbles and adjust the headspace as is necessary. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.
  6. When the time is up, remove the jars and set them on a folded kitchen towel to cool. When the jars have cooled enough that you can comfortably handle them, check the seals. Sealed jars can be stored at room temperature for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

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5 Responses to Sour Cherry Preserves with Bourbon

  1. 1
    mlaiuppa says:

    I so wish I could get sour cherries locally. I would be so on this, making enough for several pies.

    But unfortunately the only fresh cherries we get are the sweet ones.

    I did luck into some currants one year but haven’t since.

  2. 2
    Inga says:

    What is the role of bourbon in this recipe? I wonder if there is anything more than just the fact that adding alcohol to recipe make it sound better ;-).

  3. 3
    Kristin says:

    Just made a double batch! There was a bit of leftover syrup that I saved to make some bourbon cocktails later tonight.

  4. 4
    Shellie english says:

    What else would you substitute for the bourbon for a lighter flavour? Grand mariners??
    Any other suggestions?

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