Table of Contents
  1. What if there are no fresh cherries to be had?
  2. How can jam be made without pectin?
  3. Watch how to make this cherry jam
  4. How to Can Cherry Jam Recipe

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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.

Close up view of two hands holding glass jar filled with red cherry jam with spoon holding some out to see the texture

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!

Three glass jars filled with red colored cherry jam sitting on white countertop with towel in background

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!

Top down view of red cherry jam with lots of texture sitting in glass container all on white countertop

Watch how to make this cherry jam

Small glass jar sitting on white countertop filled with red colored cherry jam with lids and rings all around and wood cutting board in background

How to Can Cherry Jam

3.67 from 3 votes
Made from simple ingredients and one surprise addition, it's super easy to can cherry jam! Plus, this method uses no pectin, opting instead to create the jam's texture through a natural thickening processing!
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Process Time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 96 tbsp


  • 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.



Serving: 1tbspCalories: 38kcalCarbohydrates: 9.7gProtein: 0.2gFat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gPolyunsaturated Fat: 0gMonounsaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 0.1mgPotassium: 47.5mgFiber: 0.4gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 0.6IUVitamin C: 1.5mgCalcium: 2.8mgIron: 0.1mg
Course Spreads
Cuisine American
Difficulty Intermediate
Method Canning

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I’m Kaleb! I'm not a chef, professional baker, landscaper, or designer, but I like to play each on Knollgate Farm. Come join me on my journey and let's learn together!

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3.67 from 3 votes (2 ratings without comment)

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  1. Caleb, I made your cherry jam recipe and it came out perfect and so yummy! 😋 Did not have Kirsch so put in two tsp of almond extract. It set up perfect and it was a nice dark cherry color so no need for red food dye. Had it on wheat toast this morning for breakfast. This recipe is a keeper!

    Also making peach jam and peach butter from my sisters two peach trees while we are canning. 🍑 🍒

  2. For the left over preserves, make a Cherry Balsamic Reduction and serve on top of your favorite cut of meat. Particularly good on pork! (Sub Cherry for blackberry for a four star steak glaze).

    Sauté minced onion and garlic in butter. Add equal parts preserves and balsamic, course cracked black peppercorns, some sprigs of thyme. Maybe even a splash or two of bourbon. (Use your nose!) Simmer until reduced to a glaze and serve.

  3. 5 stars
    Just finished preparing your cherry jam recipe. Used cherry brandy since my store did not have kirsch. A little on the thin side but when I tasted what I had left over…wow! the flavor was outstanding! Thanks for the recipe!

  4. Hi Kaleb,
    I made your “other” recipe (where you use 6.5 cups of cherries) last year. It was fab! Thank you! This week I made both this one and that one again. Again, that one was great. This one, however, uses less than HALF the sugar ratio of that one, which seems too good to be true. Do you mean 4.5 lbs of cherries, or 4.5 cups? (It looks like you have more than 41/2 cups on the tray in the video. 🤔) This recipe gave me a wonderfully tangy sauce, but not jam.

    I see Maureen’s comment about it turning out perfectly which makes me doubt myself, but not enough to not write this. I wish I could avoid asking this in a public forum, but I can’t find an alternative. (Did I mention they’re both very, very tasty?)