Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary for the Whole Journeys Challenge + Giveaway

July 23, 2014(updated on August 30, 2021)

Sweet Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary | Food in Jars

While I was out on the west coast a few weeks back, I got an email from a very nice woman from the Whole Foods Market corporate offices. She was writing because they’ve recently launched a travel company called Whole Journeys and were partnering with bloggers as a way of shining some light on some of their featured trips and destinations.

halved cherries | Food in Jars

In this particular round of promotion, they were inviting a few bloggers to create a preserve would combine seasonal produce with an ingredient from one of the regions visited on a Whole Journeys itinerary.

Despite my crazy schedule, I just couldn’t say no to this very interesting recipe development challenge. Plus, they were kicking in a gift card to cover supplies and another one to give away to a FiJ reader (more about that at the end of the post).

mountain forest honey | Food in Jars

When I got back to Philadelphia, there was a package waiting for me that contained a few jelly jars, a little tub of raw mountain honey, and a sheaf of paper telling me all about the Dolomites, which is a mountain range in the northern Italian Alps.

honey cherry rosemary | Food in Jars

I spent a goodly amount of time wondering what I could make that would be both appropriately Italian and evoke a mountainous region. So much time, in fact, that I missed the challenge deadline and still didn’t have a plan. Oops.

cooking cherries | Food in Jars

Last Thursday, I stopped thinking and started canning. One of the details included in the material they sent was the fact that the Dolomites is known for cheeses, speck (it’s a lovely, smokey cured ham), and wines. I decided to make a preserve that would go nicely with all those things.

dirty pot | Food in Jars

I took 2 1/2 pounds of cherries, split them in half, popped out the pits and piled them in a low wide Dutch oven. I added the honey that had come in my box (it was a 16 ounce jar), along with a fragrant stem of rosemary (I brought a gallon size bag of rosemary clipped from a giant shrub in my parents’ front yard back to Philly with me). I let it sit for a bit, until the honey dissolved and the cherries released some juice.

empty jar | Food in Jars

Once it was juicy, I put the pot on the stove and brought it to a boil. I cooked it at a rapid bubble for about 20 minutes, until the cherries softened and the syrup thickened a bit. I didn’t add any pectin because I wasn’t going for a jam, but instead wanted tender cherries in a rosemary and honey flavored syrup. Towards the end of cooking, I added the juice of one lemon and just a pinch of sea salt, to help sharpen the finished flavor.

spoonful of preserved cherries | Food in Jars

The preserve is a perfect accompaniment for cheese and cured meats, so I think I hit my mark. It’s one that I look forward to cracking open later in the fall when the evenings turn crisp and the days shorten.

Now, the giveaway. I have one $50 gift certificate to send out to one of you. Here’s how to enter.

  1. Leave a comment on this post and tell me what you would have made given the same challenge!
  2. Comments will close at 11:59 pm eastern time on Saturday, July 26, 2014. Winners will be chosen at random and will be posted to the blog on Sunday, July 27, 2014.
  3. Giveaway open to United States residents only.
  4. One comment per person, please. Entries must be left via the comment form on the blog at the bottom of this post.

For more about Whole Journeys, check them out on Facebook and Twitter.

Disclosure: Whole Foods Market gave me a gift card to cover the cost of supplies for this challenge (along with a few jars and a little tub of honey) and has also provided the $50 gift card for this giveaway. My thoughts and opinions remain, as always, entirely my own.

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Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary


  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet cherries
  • 16 ounces raw honey
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary about 6-8 inches lont
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold 4 half pints of product.
  • Wash cherries. Remove stems and pits, and slice in half.
  • Combine the chopped cherries with the honey and rosemary in a low, wide pan.
  • Put the pan on the stove and bring to a boil. Cook at a moderate boil, stirring regularly, for 15-20 minutes. The preserve is done when the liquid has thickened into a slow running syrup and the cherries are soft.
  • Towards the end of cooking, add the lemon juice and salt.
  • Remove the pan from the heat. Funnel preserves into prepared jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Apply lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath canner for 15 minutes.
  • When time is up, remove canner from heat and set the lid aside. Let the jars cool gradually in the pot for an additional 10 minutes (this is to prevent any liquid loss).
  • Remove the jars from the canner and set them on a folded kitchen towel to continue to cool.
  • When jars are cool enough to handle, remove rings and test seals. Rinse the jars to remove any sticky residue.
  • Sealed jars will keep on the shelf for up to a year. Any unsealed jars should be refrigerated and used promptly.

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239 thoughts on "Cherry Preserves with Honey and Rosemary for the Whole Journeys Challenge + Giveaway"

  • I like those little Italian fruit tarts. I would try to figure out how to make a jam that reflected that — berries, grapes, oranges — and I would fail miserably.

  • Can I stem and pit the cherries now, freeze them, and do the recipe later? Any reason why frozen cherries won’t work as well?

  • I just made your mixed fruit jam from Food in jars! I’m thinking that instead of the other stone fruit, I would just use cherries, honey, rosemary, and lemon and follow your book. One question though about that recipe, it never says when to add the lemon juice and zest. I added it once I started cooking the jam, which by the way is delicious! Thanks!

  • Probably would have gone with red raspberries and honey with some kind of herbal twist….maybe lavender? Your cherries sound divine!! I have never heard of speck!

  • Oh, boy – does that sound GOOD! I’m getting some cherries, and I know what I’m going to do with them. πŸ™‚

  • I’d probably make a honey pistachio liqueur. Or maybe honey lavender. Though I do have about six pounds of cherries to use up…

  • I just bought 2 bags of cherries and was wondering what I would do with them, not having ever done anything with them with the exception of eating them. I was planning on searching for some recipes tomorrow, but I do believe I will be trying your recipe instead.

  • I’m just getting started with canning and I’ve never been much of a cook, so I probably would have done my usual honey thing, which is to add it to espresso with a bit of heavy cream, or blend it into my greek yogurt with whatever fruit is ripe – peaches, this week. πŸ™‚

  • I would’ve probably made a honey – cherry preserve, like you did, but I would’ve added some red wine to let it cook down but add the flavor and add an herb of some sort… maybe some orange mint to give it a pop of freshness to balance the depth of the red wine (but I’m not the best at choosing herbs on a whim) πŸ™‚

  • Something with honey and lemon…like a take on a limoncello maybe? And if you threw in that rosemary or some basil or thyme. I’m thinking a syrup and then making it into a cocktail with lots of ice. We are dying of heat today!

  • Since the Dolomites are the Northernart of Italy I was thinking of the Alps and the fact they eat heartier meals up there. So I immediately thought of sauerkraut, sweetened with the honey to almost give a sweet and sour kind of thing.
    Or the other one is since there are so many grapes up there do a grape jam made with honey and given some flavor with rosemary.

  • I recently enjoyed a nice dolomitian(?) wine and would’ve tried to encore orate that into a preserve with apricots and fresh sweet marjoram

  • The cherry sounds delicious. I would do vidalia onions, pineapple, and lemon thyme with the honey. yum!

  • The Chinese journey inspires something that mixes tea and citrus, or maybe rosehip jam as it is very citrusy. Fun!

  • When I think of mountain-y flavors, the first things that come to mind are wild sage and thyme-maybe something with plums and thyme and honey? I think that’d be a nice combination, especially with those little Italian prune plums.

  • I would have combined the cherries, honey, as well as some sliced peaches then for herbs I would have added sage or the rosemary but not both.

  • I would use crushed fennel seed or fennel pollen (expensive and hard to find) and reduce the honey by about 1/3, Europeans use less sugar, and especially since you mentioned using the preserve with cheeses and speck. Something similar to the fruit mustards so popular there!

  • Your recipe looks yummy. I would have probably made honey butter or since I grow figs I would have made a fig spread.

  • Well, savory pickled condiment seems right on for that region. Love what you did, BUT just to offer another idea…
    Pickled Cherries with Honey, Balsamic, Rosemary and Juniper Berries??????

  • I know that is have gone for an apple, wild Berry and honey preserve with some of that rosemary as well …
    Seems more in tune with traditional alpine foods.

  • A cherry vinegar syrup (surprisingly tasty!) using champagne vinegar and blood orange juice to glaze smoked fish or to drizzle on cheese.

  • I made some Cherry Preserves just the other day,if I had know I would have concocted a cherry recipe immersed in brandy and cooked down to a delicious sauce.

  • My husband’s family comes from out there! In a tiny town up the mountain from bolzano. We were there just last year, and it is the most beautiful area! Apple orchards every where! It was originally Austrian which is why the names of towns have a German version as well as the Italian one.

    That being said, I would have to make an apple chutney! Something to go well with the dough balls (swimming in butter, you can really taste the German influence). An apple chutney with grapes or raisins (his second cousin has a Vinyard casually) , and walnuts as tribute to my husband’s parents who throw them in everything.

    What a fun challenge! It’s making me drool.

  • Hmm. Maybe apple jalapeΓ±o jam except made with Italian roaster peppers (I have some growing but not quite ripe yet) & honey. I think it would go well with cheese.

  • Im kind of stuck on this cherry/honey/rosemary combo now. To the extent that I think you nailed it πŸ™‚ I also adore your chutney recipe from the other day. Either way, I think cherries, honey……maybe some sweet onions cooked way down…..something to compliment the cheese definitely! Walnuts?

  • I’m working on perfecting a cherry liqueur. Northwest Cherries and local made Vodka or Bourbon. What could be better? Cheers!

  • I probably would have made a pomegranate preserve to use as a glaze for ham and using a regional wine and honey. The cherry preserve you made looks wonderful.

  • Given the ingredients, I think I would have attempted some type of cherry syrup. Or now that I think about it, I wouldn’t mind a cherry infused yogurt drink either. I am not a big fan of rosemary, wine or cheese, so the rosemary would get tossed first. Then I would probably go sweet, although not overly as I am not a big fan of flavored sugar either. Then I’d taste my concoction and more than likely give it away to some family guinea pig!

  • Your recipe sounds delicious! I am afraid if I had a pil of cherries and some raw honey in front of me, they would have go e straight over ice cream or into a pie. They would not have lasted long enough to can!

  • I love blueberries with cherries, so I would probably make a jam using them; the blueberries in my yard are ripening as we speak. Add a little honey to the mix, and I bet it would go great with some good cheese. I’m thinking a nice strong cheese like horseradish cheese that could stand up to the sweetness of the jam.

  • Your combination sounds awesome – don’t think I would want to change what is already perfect. Can’t wait to make some. And I think I will mix a batch of homemade ice cream and spoon this awesome cherry, honey and rosemary syrup over it.

  • I love seasonal blueberries and peaches combo in pies now, and so would make those two in a jam with the honey and turned into a tart filling on a winter’s day.

  • Honestly; I haven’t a clue, but first thing to come to mind was apple/pear butter
    Thank you on the wonderful giveaway opportunity

  • I would do a white peach, ginger and raw honey. Just got some picked from neighbors yard. Or Apple Honey applesauce. Great giveaway. Thanks

  • I would have done something with figs, honey and ? — I am about to go pick some figs this weekend!!!

  • Instead of regional foods, I keep thinking about the terrain of northern Italy. A simple granola for when hiking to one’s mountain picnic, with some kind of (regional) wine chutney to mix in? Stone fruit, a little Italian apple, winter preserved meyer lemon for citrus and to salt the sweet fruit, maybe some cooked onion. (I’m employing less of a sound preserving strategy and more just throwing it in the pot so hiking can commence sooner.) But bonus if it works with polenta!

    I wonder how cherries would do in a sauerkraut.

  • I picked up 16 pounds of peaches over the weekend, so it would be something like peach butter or peach jam, sweetened with honey.

  • Do they grow other fruits in that region of Italy? I have never tried to create my own recipe, but I would think a honey fruit butter would be perfect with that raw honey… Possibly even a honey cherry butter, but I’d be open to any kind of regional fruit.

  • I think I would try my fig and caramelized onion jam with the honey. It pairs wonderfully with cheeses and meats!

  • I have no idea, but I just made lovely raspberry honey preserves with a recipe that I got from… you, of course. Oh and also, Saturday is my birthday πŸ˜›

  • Since I have pears dripping from my tree, I would probably make a pear butter similar to the one you used in Preserving by the Pint.

  • The first thing that came to mind was a Genovese basil pesto, but since they gave you the honey I would turn it into a basil pesto dressing to go over a tomato and sliced cheese salad. Or perhaps on an Italian sandwich.

  • I think my starting point would be apricots with that honey… not sure what else I’d throw in there just yet.

  • Since I am in cucumber overload and pickling my little heart out, I would have done a honey-balsamic pickled figs, with some rosemary or thyme. And then I would have it with some sharp, stinky Italian cheese and a glass of pinot noir, and be a very happy camper.

  • I have access to a fig tree in my area for free and would make my
    fig jam with orange peel and honey. I’ve never tried it with honey,. I
    think it would taste good.

  • What you made was perfect–I especially think the rosemary was apt. Thinking about charcuterie and smoky flavors, I might have gone with a fragrant rosemary apple butter.

  • Rosemary and honey are a marriage made in heaven…so…I would do something very similar to what you did. Maybe with peaches since they seem to be everywhere. Perhaps some balsamic added. Slap some on a piece of toast with some brie. Yummy, yummy in my tummy.

  • I’ve been thinking about mustard of late, so I probably would have tried some sort of honey mustart fruit chutney.

  • I’m just learning to can and have never developed a recipe well. But I’d use the honey on my toast with cherries in my yogurt. I love your blog thanks. It’s fun learning with your ideas/directions.

  • It would be something that contains raw honey. My employer raises bees, so I am well stocked with honey.

  • The first thing I thought of (perhaps because, to my delight, I found a jar of it on a high shelf in my pantry last night) is the pear mostarda recipe from your new cookbook. You were kind enough to share a copy with me last year after I tasted it at one of your demonstrations. I have offered the pear mostarda on more than one cheese board over the past year, always with great success.

  • I was given a batch of rhubarb recently and stuck it in the freezer until I had time to do something with it. A few years ago, a neighbor gave me some lovely strawberry-rhubarb jam with lavender that was delicious. I may try and copy that after I get done with the abundance of tomatoes and cucumbers I’ve got right now!

  • I am into trying new ways to preserve with honey… have been doing it for years, and incorporating rosemary sounds heavenly!

  • I love everything in this jar. I would pick coastal croatia and make a sour cherry butter, maybe with some almond extract! Or a honeyed plum butter?

  • Whenever I think of Italy, I remember on my honeymoon eating the most delicious figs dripping with local honey, so would probably do a honey fig “cheese”!

  • I am NOT experienced at the recipe development thing, but I would have gone with honey and lemon sauce of some form- maybe a dressing or dip?? Love the sound of the yumminess you created!

  • Plums are ripening here where I live. I’d bring in the Italian wine with the honey and herbs and make up a goodie to go with the cheeses from Italy.

  • I would use the honey as the sweetener in a blueberry mustarda which would have (much like your recipe here) a nice balanced earthy brightness to complement cheese and cured meats. It also has the bonus of being able to be made with ingredients local to both the Dolomites and the east coast of the US (where I live).

  • I read that polenta is “the bread of the Dolomites.” One of my favorite recipes is to make polenta toast with dried fruit chutney (cherries, cranberries, apricots) and serve with spicy chicken sausage and garlicky white bean dip as an appetizer. It is so good! (It’s also a lot of work, which is why my family doesn’t get it very much!) πŸ™‚

  • Sounds wonderful. My garden is filled with heirloom cherry tomatoes which I have been drying and now I am thinking of a tomato jam or preserves. Adding honey, mmmmm, sounds wonderful.

  • I really love this combination and i think it would be really fabulous with some sharp aged sheeps milk cheese. If I were given the same challenge…I’d probably try something with sharp little apples and juniper berries, maybe even liqueur sweetened with the honey.

  • I just made your recipe but with a few changes. I also used 2 cups black rasberries in mine and lemon zest as that was all I had left to a lemon. I had some left over juice from this lucious preserve that I hated to waste, so I sat down with a bowl of granola and poured the juice right over it, YUMMY!

  • Not sure it would count as a preserve, but I think I would make some kind of honey/citrus dressing for a salad.

  • Hmm…I think you nailed it on the pairing with cheese and wine! Maybe I would have tried a herbed mustard with a touch of mountain honey to go with that regional ham. πŸ™‚

  • Your recipe sounds so good! My Grandma was from northern Italy and growing up she always made a spiced plum jam. It was amazing and I wish I had the recipe. So I would make something with plums and spices to try to replicate that.

  • I’m thinking along the lines of a nectarine-honey preserve or granola with dried cherries. How these relate to the Dolomites, I’m not so sure. Your solution certainly fulfills the criteria better!

  • When I first read this, I thought cherry-thyme-honey, somehow. That’s still Mediterranean, right? Although I’m sure rosemary is a bit more accurate to that region….

    Then I realized that the cherries were your idea, not part of the box! And I doubt I would have thought of them. I associate honey with things like pears, which are not in season and hence a horrible choice. Hmm.

  • The Dolomites make a very good apple strudel so I would use the honey with apples, sultanas, pine nuts and some rum, vanilla, cinnamon, and lemon zest for flavouring. This sounds like it would be really good on a cheese board or in an actual quick strudel using canned filling!

    However, your recipe is on my to do list!!!