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Sour Cherry Jam From Frozen Tart Cherries

sour cherry jam

Last summer, we were overwhelmed with the harvest (as usual!), and so rather than canning our sour cherries at that time, we just put the pitted and washed cherries into the freezer, with thoughts of making sour cherry jam sometime during the winter months.  Well, that time has come.  Today I pulled out one of the bags of frozen sour cherries and made jam.

sour cherries in the freezer

In addition to the two bags of sour cherries still in our big freezer (above), there is another big bag in our kitchen freezer.  Plus the bag that I just made into jam!  So many cherries....

Usually I make jam using Pomona's Pectin since it requires a lot less sugar, but today I discovered I didn't have enough of it in the cupboard.  But I did have some Ball pectin that says it's "Low or No-Sugar Needed Pectin".  I hadn't tried this before and don't even remember buying it, but I must have because there it was in the cupboard.  It hadn't even been opened.  Most excellent, I thought, and proceeded to make us some jam.

Ball low-sugar pectin

Surprisingly, the gallon-sized bag of cherries had just enough in it to make a quadruple batch of jam according to the instructions inside the Ball flap.

Flap instructions for Ball Low-Sugar pectin

Here's what my Ball Low-Sugar Pectin recipe came to, after doing some math:

Sour Cherry Jam with Ball Low-Sugar Pectin


5 1/3 cups of frozen sour cherries (rinsed with warm water and drained well)

1 1/3 cups of water

1/4 cup lemon juice

6 Tablespoons Ball Low-Sugar Pectin

2 cups sugar


If canning the jam, prepare all your equipment and put the jars and lids on to boil so they are hot and sterilized. Then, place the rinsed and drained cherries, water and lemon juice into a large pot set to medium-high heat and mix well.  Then gradually add the pectin, stirring well.  Bring the mixture to a rolling boil, stirring constantly, and boil hard for a minute.  Then add the sugar, continuing to stir well, and bring back to a rolling boil, stirring constantly, boiling for a total of 1 minute more.  Remove from heat.

If canning, process for 10 minutes according to the Water Bath Canning method (adjusting for altitude).

Quantity: 8 half-pint jars

Note: Use slightly less pectin for a softer jam.  As shown here, the jam comes out fairly firm.

Tablespoon of sour cherry jam

Let me tell you, this is some tasty jam. It tastes like summer. I miss summer.  In fact, I had a hard time stopping eating the jam.  One of the jars of jam was kept out of the canner for fresh eating.  I ate almost the whole jar! And, I licked the pan clean.  And the wooden spoon. And I scraped the jam off everything else before washing and ate that bit of jam, too. Nothing was wasted. 

Now, for this jam I left our cherries whole since I like chunky jam, but you could chop or crush your cherries if you prefer.  You can also flavor the jam with a little bit of almond extract.  Our sour cherries were picked when they were bright red and juicy, and they are very flavorful, so the jam had plenty of flavor without having to add anything else.  

Berries and cherries freeze very well and so making jam in the winter using these fruits that you froze over the summer is a great way to space out the work.  You can then focus your summertime efforts on preserving all the other produce that's coming into your kitchen. And if you're like us, there is a ton of stuff coming in, and all kinds of preserving going on - canning, freezing, dehydrating, and cold storage. It's a lot to get done in one season.