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So many canned goods that used to be made at home are now second thought grocery store purchases. And jam seems to be one of those. Years ago, people would use the abundance of whatever fruit was producing and make jam for use throughout the winter. That’s not so much the case today.
Cherry may not be the first jam that comes to mind when thinking of recipes to make. Likely, strawberry or blueberry jam are many peoples’ first choice. But if/when you have a sour cherry tree producing loads of fruit and you’ve already made pies, cobblers, and frozen some for later, what else is there to make? Jam, of course!
Cherry jam is not just one solitary flavor. Quite the opposite! Good cherry jam has a well-balanced, sweet-sour interplay going on complete with intense fresh cherry flavor. And that’s exactly what this recipe achieves.
What if there are no fresh cherries to be had?
I would never expect everyone to have a sour cherry tree in their backyard. And I’ll admit: they may even be hard to find at a farmer’s market. Sour cherries are not as widely available as sweet cherries, but they’re revered for their deep, complex flavor. This is exactly why sour cherries are preferred for pie and jam.
There are a host of sour cherries varieties and all of them will work for this jam recipe. Personally, I grow two sour cherry varieties: Montmorency and North Star.
Even though fresh may be difficult to find, sour cherries are always available in the frozen aisle of the grocery store. See if your local grocer carries them frozen and snag a few bags. They’ll taste just like the homegrown, fresh ones!
How can jam be made without pectin?
If you’ve made jam or know the process, you’ll know that a lot of recipes nowadays use a box of powdered pectin. Once the pectin is added, the jam quickly thickens. Sounds great, right? The problem is that boxed pectin can have an irregular texture, often resulting in gooey, gloppy, and simply unnatural jam.
I opt to make all of my jams without any pectin. Instead, I take a cue from Christine Ferber, an amazing French jam maker. Instead of using pectin, the fruit is cooked with sugar to draw out the juices. After a short boil, the juice is drained off and then cooked to 221 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature where enough excess water evaporates and the sugars thicken. The fruit is then added back in for a bit more cooking and that’s it! You’ll achieve a perfect jam each and every time!
Watch how to make this cherry jam
How to Can Cherry Jam
- 4 ½ lb pitted cherries
- 3 cups sugar
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 2 tbsp Kirsch
- Have all the canning equipment, sterilized jars, lids, and rings ready before beginning the canning process.
- In a large heavy-bottomed jam pan or Dutch oven, combine the cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and Kirsch. Bring to a boil, about 5 minutes. Continue to boil until the mixture reaches a rolling boil, meaning a boil that cannot be stirred down.
- Remove from the heat and strain the juice from the cherries. Set the cherries aside and return the juice to a boil. Continue to boil until the juice reaches 221°F, 8-12 minutes. It can take longer one would think. Add the cherries back to the juice. If a finer texture is desired, use an immersion blender to achieve the target consistency.
- Return the jam to a boil just to heat the cherries.
- Remove from the heat and divide into prepared jars. Wipe the rims with a clean cloth and top with lids and rings.
- Process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Adjust for altitude using the USDA canning guide.
- Remove from the water bath onto a cooling rack. Allow to cool for at least 8 hours before removing the rings to store.