How To Can Cherry Jam


After picking cherries with Addy the other day I had about a 1/2 gallon of cherries to experiment with. Since hubby doesn’t like cherry pie, and since I just ran out of my apple jelly, I decided to try making cherry jam.

Like most things I’ve been doing lately, this was my first time making anything from cherries. It was also my very first attempt at canning solo (and with no canning equipment)! Up until now I’ve been going to my mother-in-law’s house and she has helped me can stuff using her equipment. Well, I called her up to tell her I would be trying to can jam and she instructed me on how I could do it using my new stainless steel pot.

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First I had to pit all of the cherries. A little tricky but not too difficult, just time consuming. (I think I’ll put a Cherry Pitter  on my wishlist now!) As I was chugging along pulling pits, imagine my shock when all of a sudden I find in one cherry a teeny, tiny little… worm! I totally freaked out. Not because of the worm, but because it hadn’t even crossed my mind that there might be worms in the cherries, and my daughter had been popping them in her mouth right and left straight off the tree! Ewww!

In my state of freaking out (“Oh my goodness!! Ahhh! There’ s a worm!”) of course Jada couldn’t help overhearing my fit and came running to see what the fuss was all about. I said, “Look baby,” and showed her the tiny little invader, “there was a worm in that cherry!

I hope you didn’t eat any worms the other day!” She kinda shrugged her shoulders nonchalantly and said, “I didn’t taste any worms!” And she walked off without a care in the world. I started really examining every cherry I pitted after that!

So my first attempt at preserving the cherries was making jam. Here is the recipe I used from a recipe in the Ball Blue Book, but tweaked a little according to what I had on hand:

Bing Cherry Jam

  • 1 quart chopped, pitted bing cherries
  • 1 pkg powdered pectin (Sure Jell)
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. cloves
  • 1/4 c. lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract (could use almond too)
  • 4 1/2 c. sugar

Combine all ingredients, except sugar, in a large pot. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add sugar, stirring until dissolved. Return to rolling boil for 2 min, stirring. Remove from heat; skim foam if necessary. Ladle hot jam into hot jars, leaving 1/4 in. headspace. Place lids on jars. Process 10 min. in a water bath canner.

Yield: about 6 half-pints.

So, armed with my recipe I set out for the task. Like I said, I didn’t have a canner, or any other tools for that matter. This proved to make things quite difficult.

My equipment consisted of a small, med. and large stainless steel pot, a couple of wooden spoons, and wire salad tongs. Yeah, that’s what I had. I used the small pot to boil and sanitize my lids. I used the medium pot to boil my ingredients, and I used the large pot to boil and sanitize my jars, and to do my canning. The wooden spoons were all I had to try to get the blazing hot jars out of the boiling water, and the tongs I used to retrieve the lids from their steaming pot.

Did I mention that these “tools” did not exactly do the best job?? Have you ever tried to get a hot glass jar full of boiling water out of a pot of lava using two wooden spoons like chopsticks? Yeah… I got burned. But, I was persistent, and eventually I got the job done.

I still have a Canning Kit on my wishlist. I’ve been holding out for my birthday or Christmas, but I may have to break down and buy one before then, seeing as canning season is here!

Anyways, to can with a large stainless steel pot, I just put a dishrag in the bottom of the pot filled with boiling water, to keep the filled jars from touching the bottom. Once you put your jam into the jars, screw the lids on tightly and place them back into the pot, making sure the water is covering the jars completely. Then you put the lid on the pot and boil for the recommended time. Worked great!

I had enough jam leftover to make a 7th jar, which I put in the fridge instead of sealing. I wanted to try it right away. I have to say it came out okay. It has a kinda bite to it, a bit too spicy for me. (The flavor reminds me of Christmas… but I think next time I’ll leave out the cloves.) Nevertheless, I’m very proud of my accomplishment.

So, what did I do with the rest of the cherries?? I tried out my food dehydrator for the first time and tried making cherry raisins and a fruit leather. But that’s another post…

10 thoughts on “How To Can Cherry Jam”

  1. We use this same recipe all the time, though we leave out the extract. The first time we made it, my daughter said, “Mmmmmm, it smells just like Christmas!” So we call it Christmas Cherry Jam. It a favorite of all our family and friends! Good job making it without all the normal tools. Determination is the best tool, right? 😀

  2. Okay, I finally have my garden going well this year and hope to try some canning. I have strawberries coming on, blackberries eventually, just to start. Any helpful suggestions for those of us who have small quantities of fruit at a time? I want to make some jams/preserve but don’t want the fruit to spoil before I have enough to make a smallish batch. Thoughts? I could get more elsewhere but don’t have a good resource other than the local stores, perhaps a farmer’s market. I would prefer to use my own crops. Thanks!

  3. We made cherry jam for the first time this year. Found a recipe that suggested adding amaretto liqueur and a little cinnamon. That didn’t sound good at all to me, but hubby really wanted to try it. OMG, I’m so glad he talked me into it, because it was sooooo good!

    I need to adapt the recipe to use with low-sugar pectin because the full-sugar jam was too sweet for my preference, but I will definitely make this again. The flavor combination was really mouth-watering.

    We also made cherries by hot-packing whole cherries with sugar syrup and amaretto. It’s usually made with brandy but we made it with what we had. Also good! These will be our Xmas presents this year!

  4. First, I have a cherry pitter similar to the one you linked to ($3 at Fred Meyer). On my wish list for this year? A cherry pitter with a hopper. Pitting 10lbs of cherries by hand with the little hand pitter is… oh, let’s say messy and time-consuming and made my kitchen look like a disaster. Since I plan to do closer to 50-100lbs this year, yeah.

    Second, the sealing thing mentioned above? Only seals stuff. Doesn’t heat any bugs inside the jar/contents to kill off bad stuff. Which is why despite my neighbor’s similar way of making grape juice (sterilize jars, lids, rings, dump 1 cup rinsed grapes, 1 cup sugar and top off with boiling hot water into a quart jar, seal, let sit for 6 months), I just dumped all the stuff into my quarts and processed in the water bath for 20-25 minutes. Then rather than having to wait for it to steep, we could crack it open to try that day. 😀

    Granted, my grandma processed green beans in her water bath canner for 3 hours, but that doesn’t mean I’m brave enough to do that (I really like my pressure canner, honestly, plus I can do chicken stock, spaghetti sauce, soups, stews, etc.). Botulism scares the daylights out of me. Oh, and I’m almost never canning alone – I always have 3 little munchkins underfoot. So doing the boiling thing is nice insurance for when they’ve interrupted me and gotten me sidetracked with something they need right then so I come back to the canning 15-60min later.

  5. Wanted to share some recommendations from a Cooperative Extension website regarding the safety of the inversion method:

    When the inversion process does work, the vacuum seals of filled jars still tend to be weaker than those produced by a short boiling water canning process. A weak seal is more likely to fail during storage. In addition, the head space of the jar may retain enough oxygen to allow some mold growth if airborne molds contaminated the surface of the product as the jar was filled and closed. More complete removal of oxygen from the head space also offers some longer protection from undesirable color and flavor changes with some types of fruit products.
    The canning process is therefore a more foolproof method of making jams and jellies that will not spoil. Because we are interested in recommending jam and jelly making procedures that offer the highest quality, the least health and safety risks, and the lowest chance of losing product, all Extension recommendations for jams and jellies include a boiling water canning process for room temperature storage of sealed jars. Standard canning jars used with self-sealing flat metal lids and screw bands, presterilization of clean canning jars, hot filling of product into the jars,and processing for 5 minutes in a boiling water canner are recommended for highest quality and
    to prevent mold growth.

  6. I don’t boil my jars or lids to satnitize them when I can. I either just wash them in hot soapy water or run them through my dishwasher first. That would save you some burnt fingers next time! 🙂

    If I can find some cherries to pick, I am so trying your cherry jam recipe, as well as Adela’s Cherry Pie in a Jar!

  7. I use a regular stainless steel pot for my jam making and have never put a towel in it and nothing has happened. No broken jars, nothing. I made some apple preserves last year and couldnt find all my canning equipment from moving so I improvised…what a hassle that was!! The cherry jam sounds yummy! Another idea I did with strawberries, but would work with cherries, is to dehydrate them, then food process them to powder (after i froze them) and added them to my homemade applesauce…much better tasting than the strawberry (yours would be cherry) applesauce they sell in the stores!

  8. Wow! I’m definitely impressed. That sounds like a LOT of trouble! But I know it’ll be greatly enjoyed by your fam.
    My in-laws here in Germany have 2 gardens, and they grow tons of strawberries/ plums/ tomatoes/ cherries/ etc. every year. They also give us TONS of the produce, and as there’s no way for us to eat it all I end up canning a lot of it. I had to laugh at your worm experience description because the cherries from my in-laws have plenty of worms (I guess because they refuse to treat their trees with any chemicals). I always carefully pit my cherries. They don’t care if there are worms, but that totally grosses me out!

    Anyway, my mother-in-law taught me a totally different way to can – which is way easier. I don’t know – it may be inferior or something, but so far it’s worked really great for me. So I thought I’d pass it along. I sterilize all of my jars and then just line them up on the counter. Then I put whatever it is I’m canning in a huge pot and cook it until it’s boiling (like what your recipe says). Then I ladle the basically boiling gunk into the jars, close the jars tightly, and turn them on their top. The heat from the mixture somehow completely seals the lids of the jars… We’ve never had any problem with them not being sealed. Actually, a lot of times I can’t even get them open – my honey has to do it for me… =) I kind of figure if my jars are sterilized, and the mixture that I put in the jars is almost boiling, and it seals – then it should be safe to eat… I don’t know if their are any opinions or commments out there on this kind of canning? I was totally stunned when she taught me her way because my Grandmother in the USA always does it the “old-fashioned way” – like how you have described.

    Anyway, happy cherry jam eating! Makes me ready for cherry season here!!!

    • Rebecca-

      I have heard of this other way of canning, and I have to say, it sounds so much better to me!! Maybe next time I’ll try it that way. I think it’s safe as long as it’s jelly or jam, and not veggies in the jars. Do you have a recipe for cherry jam that you use??


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