Rainier Cherry Almond Preserves

July 5, 2018(updated on August 30, 2021)

I don’t often can with Rainier cherries because they are fragile and expensive (and truly, I love eating them without any embellishments). However, I managed to get out to Rowand’s Farm in New Jersey this year while there were still some in the trees and picked enough that I felt okay about surrendering a few pounds to the canning pot.

The preservation technique for these cherries is similar to the one I use for the bourbon sour cherries I posted yesterday. The cherries are pitted and macerated with sugar. Once they’re juicy, you scrape them into a pot, add the lemon juice, and bring them to a boil.

They cook for just five or six minutes. This is long enough for the cherries to soften a bit, release the bulk of their internal air (so that they don’t float), and for the syrup to thicken a little. Once you determine that the cooking process has gone as long as is necessary, you add the almond extract so that the flavor doesn’t have time to evaporate (to make these even more closer to the sour cherries, you could use amaretto in place the extract).

Then they are ladled into jars, lidded, and processed in a boiling water bath canner. These are a treat spooned into oatmeal in the wintertime or portioned out over slices of poundcake.

5 from 2 votes

Rainier Cherry Almond Preserves


  • 2 1/2 pounds Rainier cherries pitted
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons almond extract


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and enough jars to hold five half pints (the yield will be somewhere between 4 and 5 half pints).
  • Place the pitted cherries in a pan that holds at least five quarts (these cherries will foam a lot) and add the sugar and lemon juice. Stir to help the sugar dissolve.
  • Once the contents of the pan look juicy, place it on the stove over high heat.
  • 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. Add the almond extract.
  • 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.
  • 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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8 thoughts on "Rainier Cherry Almond Preserves"

    1. Ball Stars and Stripes jars.

      These cherries look so beautiful in the jars, Marisa. They kind of look like golden raspberries.

    1. I’ve only made this preserve with Rainier cherries, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work with other varieties.

  • Hi, Marisa! I have been following your work and trying your recipes for years. Thank you for all that you do. I just made a batch of these delicious Rainier cherries. After scooping them into jars, I had some liquid remaining, so I just scooped them into a jar and put that in the water bath … not a drop went to waste.

    So I tried this fig chutney recipe that David Lebovitz wrote about on his blog. I added some dried cherries and apricots, and it is truly amazing. At the end, though, he suggests reading up on the National Center for Home Food Preservation. I didn’t find it helpful at all, though I should re-read it. Wondering, do you think – based on the ingredients – that a 10-minute water bath is safe, or should I learn how to pressure-cook? Hoping you might provide some guidance that’s a little more specific to the recipe, which can be found here: https://www.davidlebovitz.com/fig-chutney-recipe/

    Thank you, Marisa – this week, I have put up 8 pints of your strawberry-vanilla jam, 11 half-pints of fig jam, three pints of tomatillos, 2 pints of peach jam and 2.5 pints of Rainier Cherry Almond Preserves – all your very delicious recipes. I’ve got another 3 lbs. of peaches to jam, and as soon as my cherry pitter arrives (I pit the Rainier with the chubby end of a chopstick), I’ll make your sweet cherry butter. You are my inspiration, so please keep doing what you’re doing!


    1. The issue with this chutney is that figs are relatively low in acid compared to other fruit, so creating a chutney recipe that employs them that can be canned requires a bit more acid that the original recipe includes. And I can’t really advise you because you’d need to scientifically test the finished product. I’m really sorry that I can’t help more!

  • It’s OK, Marisa. I appreciate your response, which is help enough. I think I will refrigerate them and give one of your chutneys a try. Thanks bunches!

  • I just canned up this recipe roday, with a few modifications. I did use Rainier cherries. I didn’t leave them whole because we moved in March and I cannot find my cherry pitter, so I wound up cutting them off the pit. I did not use almond extract, either. Instead, I subbed 1/4 cup Amaretto liqueur. I had put 30 vanilla beans into a fifth of craft vodka about a year ago, and I added in 2 teaspoons of homemade vanilla exact at the same time that I added the Amaretto.
    Then I jarred and processed in a water bath for 10 minutes.
    I did have a bit of the syrup and just a few chunks of cherry that wouldn’t fit in anywhere, so I tried them out.
    HOLY COW! This is some fantastic stuff! I plan on using it on top of Greek yogurt and also on vanilla ice cream. The recipe made 6 half pint jars full.
    Thank you for a wonderful recipe!