How to Make Tart Red Cherry Jelly

March 15, 2017(updated on August 30, 2021)

Itching to make cherry jelly but don’t want to wait months? Try making a small batch of low sugar Tart Red Cherry Jelly using a bottle of juice from the store!

Last Thursday night, I did an hour-long live broadcast on Facebook Live. A bunch of you tuned in, I showed you how to make Tart Red Cherry Jelly using store bought juice, we talked about the various ways to make shrubs, and I answered a whole bunch of questions.

During the broadcast, I promised to post the recipe I used to make the jelly. It’s taken me a little longer than anticipated, but here it is. I demonstrated how to do it using a bottle of tart cherry juice from Trader Joe’s, but you can use any bottle of 100% fruit juice that you’d like. In the past, I’ve done this with Concord grape juice and blueberry juice, both to good effect.

This recipe also works with honey. If you go in that direction, reduce the amount by approximately one-third. Oh, and before you put the jelly into jars, taste it. Some batches of juice are sweeter than others, and so occasionally a bit of fresh lemon juice is needed to help balance the flavors.

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Tart Red Cherry Jelly

Servings: 3 half pints


  • 3 1/2 cups tart cherry juice
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar divided
  • 1 tablespoon calcium water part of the Pomona's Pectin system
  • 1 tablespoon Pomona's Pectin powder


  • Prepare a boiling water bath canner and 3 half pint jars.
  • Pour the juice into a low wide non-reactive pan that can hold at least five quarts (this jelly bubbles up a lot during cooking, so you need the room for expansion).
  • Bring the juice to a boil. Once it boils, add 1 cup granulated sugar and the tablespoon of calcium water and continue to boil for another five minutes.
  • Whisk the pectin powder into the remaining sugar.
  • Once the five minutes are up, slowly whisk the pectin-spiked sugar into the boiling juice. I do this with a whisk in one hand and the vessel with the pectin in the other, to ensure that the pectin gets integrated into the juice smoothly and doesn't clump.
  • Once the the pectin is fully integrated, boil for another minute and then remove the jelly from the heat.
  • Funnel the jelly into the prepared jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.
  • Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath canner 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.


I use 3 1/2 cups of tart cherry juice rather than the full 4 cups that come in the bottle because that last portion is sediment from the pressing process. The sediment is sort of bitter and tannic, and will also make your jelly cloudy. I just carefully pour the juice out, but if you're more of a perfectionist than I, you could strain it through a coffee filter.

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14 thoughts on "How to Make Tart Red Cherry Jelly"

  • I’ve got a huge glass jar of sour cherries. Enough to make a pie, or equal to about four cans. They are in dark red liquid I will assume is cherry juice.

    If I drain the juice and save it, can I make jelly with it and use the cherries for pie? Usually I just add some seltzer water and drink sour cherry soda but making jelly from it sounds like a great idea.

    If it’s weak, maybe I can just add some cherry juice from the store, although I suspect what we have around here will be sweet cherry, not sour.

    1. Chances are good that the liquid in your jar of sour cherries is a sugar syrup. It might make a good jelly, but perhaps doesn’t need as much additional sugar as the batch I made.

      1. Good to know. I’ll check the ingredients and also taste to see. If I can find some sour cherry juice without added sugar that might help to balance. I’ll also pick up a few lemons from my parents when I visit this Saturday.

        I already made a shrub so the jelly would just be a bonus. Plus my Dad will get a pie. He loves pie.

        An additional bonus will be that the big glass jar with the screw on lid will be excellent for storing dog cookies when they get made. No way is this baby going to recycling.

  • Love making jellies from different bottled juices also making jelly using soda pop of which I like using Big Red soda, Root Beer, Dr. Pepper, etc.
    Can’t get much easier than using a bottle of store bought juice or soda

    1. You can make jelly with root beer? Really? I *love* root beer but never thought you could use a soda to make jelly.

      Right now I’ve been buying an Italian brand of soda called Pelligrino at my local big chain grocery store because it is the only brand that has blood orange soda and I got addicted to it when I traveled in Italy last June. If I could make jelly out of that blood orange soda I will. I can’t get actual blood oranges here, only naval and valencia, plus clementines and tangerines, limes, lemons. No blood oranges or seville oranges that I know of. Perhaps they just aren’t grown locally and are pushed out by the local produce.

    2. I would LOVE to make soda pop jelly…would you mind sharing the recipe????? Rootbeer jelly sounds intriguing! Thanks in advance.

  • Yes, please do share soda jelly recipes!!! Thank you!!
    Also, can regular powdered pectin be used in place of Pomona’s?

  • We don’t have the name brand of pectin where I live. Can I just use a package of Sure Jell in it’s place? Thank you.

    1. Unfortunately, Sure Jell won’t work in this recipe. This is a low sugar recipe designed to work only with Pomona’s Pectin, which is a pectin designed to work with small amounts of sugar. It is the only thing that will work in this exact recipe. It is easily ordered online.

    1. I’ve only made this recipe with store bought juice, but I imagine that it should work with your mom’s juice as well.

  • Just pulled jars out of canner. They sealed as I placed on towel. Looking very good. I am quite happy. Yield 3 1/2 pts. Will make another batch to get 6 1/2 pts.