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 would have perhaps gone with a wine infused dipping sauce of some sort. Or perhaps make a honey infused cordial? Italy brings to mind a certain state of mind: bread, family around the table, & wine cups always full!

  • Your cherry/honey/rosemary concoction sounds delicious. Cherries are just coming into season here in Wisconsin, so I might just make it!

    If I had a similar challenge, I’d look at cherries, as you did, or high bush cranberries. High bush cranberries are different from the bog-grown kind and are often found in mountainous areas.

    In fact, I used some of my own spiced cranberry jam with grilled chicken the other night. Preserves in action: it was delicious, and had a side dish of fresh steamed green beans. I love summer’s fresh produce!

  • I probably would have gone for something involving peaches, honey and basil. Mmmmmm that honey looked delicious!

  • I probably would have baked something with the honey. Like some spiced ginger biscotti I have a recipe for… somewhere.

  • I would have made a fig and honey preserve – with some fresh thyme or marjoram infused at the end. Local cherries are finished for the season here, but this recipe is being pinned for next year…

  • These cherries sound amazing! Such a delight. As for the challenge…does some sort of liqueur count as a preserve? Because I bet you could do something super interesting with an apricot and rosemary vodka infusion (or maybe a mix of vodka and brandy?) plus honey simple syrup. Now I may have to try that. πŸ™‚ I don’t know if it’s quite mountainous enough, but apricots must be a thing in southern Italy, right? Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  • I’m into pickled carrots, so I think I would have tried spicy pickled carrots sweetened with the honey. Yum!

  • I think a compote of fig, cherries, shallots and honey would be delicous. I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  • Definitely something fig. I usually make Fig Ouzo and Fig Amaretto soft jams. So how about Honeyed Fig Amaretto jam. Amaretto’s Italian, right?

  • I was thinking of your strawberry/vanilla bean jam. I also have a friend who just entered her cherry marmalade, and her apricot jalapeΓ±o jam with pieces of red and green bell pepper in the California State Fair, and has already won several prize ribbons!

  • All the honey, pears with lemon lime basil in a half preserve/half syrup style concoction. Bright and sweet to compliment all the flavors that region has to offer.

  • maybe a fruity sauerkraut; i really don’t know, i don’t cook much πŸ™‚

  • I have always thought that at some point in my life I’d like to try to make mead – a honey-based alcoholic drink- and there’s a recipe out there for a fruit-based mead (aka melomel) that I thought sounded wonderful. The ingredients for this “Super Berry Melomel” are Wildflower Honey, a Triple Berry Mix (of frozen Blackberries, Raspberries, and Blueberries), fresh Strawberries, and Black Currant Juice along with yeast and water. I think making a jam with these same ingredients (minus yeast & water) would also be delicious!

  • Hi Marissa,
    I think I would have made a dark cherry rosemary shrub!
    But I know I am going to make some little 4oz jars of these preserves also.

    But I have a question…
    What is the value of mixing fruit with honey first, versus adding the honey to the cooking fruit?

    And, I routinely have few jars done with the recipe than you. Could this be the size of my pan requiring longer cooking? Could it be the adding the honey as the fruit cooks? I was curious.


  • Honestly, I have no idea what I would make for that challenge…probably something overly complicated that would have turned out so-so.

    Question about the preserves…do I just fish out the rosemary stems when it’s ready to jar? I’d assume, but just wanted to check. Thanks!

  • Elderberries grow in the Dolomites so maybe an elderberry jam sweetened with honey would be good. πŸ™‚

  • I have a Nesco dehydrator and have never tried drying cherries – I’d love to try it! I would want to have some of them fresh, too! I’d make a buttery lattice-topped cherry pie and add some of the dehydrated cherries to amp up the flavor!

  • So I’m a little obsessed with the amazing blackberries here in the Mid-Atlantic. I love a little anise with them, so maybe a cordial-ish blackberry preserve using some sambuca and for a complementary herbal note — some tarragon? I think I’d put a bit of cracked black pepper in there too.

    I imagine this would be nice with chevre on a cracker. Or to finish a pan sauce after searing off some duck breasts. Oh man, now I might have to actually go and make this!!

  • I’m looking forward to trying your cherry recipe (my CSA overfloweth with cherries!)……I would have incorporated the honey into something peachish….perhaps with some thyme….or something….. I agree with you–something to go with the cheese and wine!

  • I tend to pair seasonal fruit with different teas that I collect from all the countries that I visit. Its great fun and makes for some unique blends!

  • That’s a tricky one! I don’t know much about mountainous regions, having mostly lived in the Midwest and coastal Sweden. But I think I would have used the honey to bake some sort of simple, buttery, crispy cookie (or even biscotti) to dunk in the wine! Your flavor combination of cherries and rosemary would have made a good cookie, too!

  • One of the journeys is to Turkey ( I would not mind winning one of those trips by the way) What that trip would inspire me to make is a apricot sumac glaze. It think it would be perfect for both meats and tofu.

  • I could never have come up with something this yummy – which is why I am reading your blog & not the other way around. :o) There is a Whole Foods opening my area soon so I would love to win this. I’ve never shopped in one before.

  • I have two huge bushes of basil and I usually make pesto for the year but I might try some honey with ginger and basil. Has anyone tried this mix?

  • Whoa, that sounds amazing. I think I would have tried a lemon curd with honey in the place of sugar.

  • I learned (on Wikipedia) that the regions surrounding the Dolomites are famous for beans, Piave cheese, and apples, so it would be nice to incorporate some of those ingredients– perhaps in a salad with the honey featured in the dressing.

  • That’s a tough one… I guess something with wine in it, because Italian stuff doesn’t usually bring a lot of fruits to mind outside of wine grapes… Honey and wine would probably need a third fruity flavor to bring it together, though, and cherries would probably have worked πŸ™‚ Plums might work, too… Oh wait, is quince from close to or around that region? Maybe honeyed quince jam…

  • I like the idea of using cherries for the challenge in honor of the Amarena cherries from Modena. I would also suggest using Italian Alpine honey, Siciilian Pizzuta almonds for real almond tastiness plus a splash of Limoncello liquor from the Amalfi Coast to brighten up the whole mixture.

  • I just bought a huge bag of cherries – they were on sale. I also have some honey I bought at a farmers’ market this last week-end. I will use Marisa’s recipe to make this yummy sounding preserve. Oh, and for the challenge, I will try honey-sweetened fig jam ( right now, I also have a lot of fig fruits in my front yard tree begging to be picked and put to good use ).

  • I was thinking figs, apples, honey and a splash of lemon juice. The pictures of the Dolomites sound amazing!

  • Sounds simply divine! I never thought to preserve sweet cherries. Wonderful use of a delicious fruit!

  • Dandelion sweet compote or Blueberry jam sweetened with honey and a tab of fresh ground cinnamon and homemade vanilla. We have an abundance of dandelions, blueberries and local honey in our area. These items we share in kind to the Dolomite Alps.

  • hmm fruit with honey is such a broad category! I think I’d be tempted by the beautiful blackberries this year

  • I would make my raspberry jelly. I steam the juice and all of the flavor out of the berries. It is heavenly! Using honey instead of sugar would make it more heavenly!

  • I think I’d make a not-too-sweet onion jam to go with the cheeses and German-style breads I see listed on Dolomite-related food sites. In order to use up all the honey, I’ll bet it would be a moderately big batch.

  • This recipe sounds amazing. I think I would have made a preserve with figs and the cherries, perhaps adding some basil as well. I do love a good fig recipe. Thank you for sharing!

  • I am so in awe of all of you. I have never actually canned or preserved anything but am hugely interested. My friend sent me the link the Food In Jars and all I have been doing is reading posts. So, quite frankly, I don’t know what I would make. For what it is worth, I just read about herb infused honey… that seems easy enough for a newbie like me. Is that a fair thing to post?

  • I love to dehydrate all kinds of things, including fruit, and this spring I dried strawberries. I would make creamed (or spun) honey, and when it sets up, I’d powder the strawberries in the blender and add it to the creamed honey. I would love to try it with blueberries and blackberries and raspberries, too! I give creamed cinnamon honey butter as Christmas gifts to my friends. Maybe this year it will be creamed strawberry honey!

  • Those jars are gorgeous! If I were to dream up a jam for that challenge I’d try to include figs! Fig jam paired with ciabatta and a good cheese…yum!

  • As I was reading, I was wondering how a deep, fruity red wine and a splash of balsamic vinegar would pair with rest of the ingredients. Some thing to add a bit of depth to the sweet but still allow the rosemary to come through…. hmmmmm…. now where can I get cherries??

  • Great creation Marisa! Would be great not only on cheese but perhaps with game meats, which I understand are big in the Dolomites. With that in mind, perhaps a sweet savory jam (cherry onion sage?)

  • I luv your savory/sweet idea…I think I would have added some cocoa powder and chili powder to make a spicy jam…yum!

  • I could easily repeat the sweet cherry chutney… But will try this rosemary cherry preserve recipe next…fabulous ideas

  • i think i would have gone with an onion jam with herbs. but i love the cherry jam with rosemary idea so much, i’m eyeing the bag of cherries in the fridge.

  • M-

    Can’t improve on your recipe. I’ve slipped across the border into italy and visited the dolomites (beautiful+++++) several times while vacationing in Germany. The entire mountain regions of Germany, Austria, and Italy love cherries, cherry jam, cherry juice, cherry liquor…etc. Your recipe is perfect!!!.

    Jam Bubba

  • I have an entire counter of peaches right now so I would have probably gone for a peach/vanilla butter to slather with cheese and croissants. I have peach butter on the brain at the moment…..:))

  • If I were given similar ingredients I think I would make a cherry BBQ sauce with herbs. Something that would go with chicken or pork on the grill.

  • Great choice in recipe. I have been wanting to make jams that are honey sweetened so I probably would have taken this opportunity to make “Honey sweetened cherry jam”.

  • I would have used the honey and rosemary to make a brine for salmon and then hot smoke it. I would have used the cherries to make a compote to go on top of it.

  • I think cherries in in a sweet-savory syrup, pickle or chutney would have been right up my alley. I would make Italian cherry sodas! Looks great, Marisa.

  • Wild mountain blueberries with raw honey and balsamic vinegar of which Italians are fond in combo with fruit. Thanks for the giveaway!

  • For some reason black raspberries is what I would want to use here. I don’t think they are Italian at all, but I haven’t canned with them and maybe that’s the inspiration.

  • I would make a strawberry thyme jam recipe that is sweetened with honey. I’ve had my eye on it for a while, but I haven’t gotten around to making it.

  • What a fun challenge! I would make some kind of chutney using the honey as a sweetener…maybe Italian plum chutney?

  • I love the Whole Journeys concept. I’ve personally arranged my travels always to intercept with farming (my profession) research, and eating. Research? Yes! I’m also a beekeeper, so honey is close to my heart. I might have taken the easy route for this one, and simply soaked the fruit in the honey, and served them with lavender and thyme flowers on some (homemade) sweet cream ice cream. Thanks!

  • Cherry jam with honey and a touch of balsamic (just enough to accentuate the flavor of the cherries) I’d probably use Pomona’s as well. Thank you!

  • I would grill up some polenta and top it with some local veggies. Add some reduced wine glaze and of course a glass to drink on the side!

  • I’m a novice canner, having just started a week ago–really appreciate the information and recipes on your website/blog–thanks! For this contest, I would have used the honey in a caramelized onion, tomato, and balsamic vinegar compote. The honey adds a sweetness and balanced the vinegar and garlic-great on crusty bread! One of my two recipes this week; looking forward to many more!

  • I once made a failed lemon honey jelly…used the resulting syrup for sweetening tea. I’d like to try that one again.

  • The honey and cherry with rosemary recipe sounds lovely. I plan to try this. My son is a beekeeper so keeps me supplied with honey. I think I would have tried a combination of strawberries, honey and reduced balsamic to make an ice cream sauce.

  • I would make a slightly thick sauce with champagne vinegar, the honey, and possibly fresh basil (I’d have to taste test it as I went along

  • Fresh Strawberry Salad Dressing using the Honey, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil with a pinch of Sea Salt and Crushed Black Pepper.

    The Salad Dressing would be served over a Spinach Salad of Strawberries, Gorgonzola Cheese and Chicken that had been marinated in Balsamic Vinegar and Rosemary then grilled to perfection.

  • Very new to canning so not an expert, but canning a spiced peach mixture with the honey would be divine!

  • As I live at 9000′, and the cherries from a few thousand feet down are showing up in our farmers market, I too would have made something yummy and savory-sweet like this preserve. Yum.

  • you definitely hit the mark with this preserve. i would’ve tried to modify my grandmother’s cherry conserve recipe (by using the honey instead of sugar). pickled cherries might go well with cheese and speck also, but those recipes don’t use any honey/sugar.