Sweet Cherry Jam

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Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

I love jam. On toast. In marinades for ribs and glazes for chicken. Warmed up and drizzled over vanilla ice cream. This sweet cherry jam is a fabulous way to enjoy cherries as they come into season. Because this jam has a lot of sugar, I never bother canning it. It will keep just fine in the fridge for a few weeks—if it lasts that long.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

This recipe calls for 2 pounds of cherries, which is about all that I can bear to pit in one sitting. And that’s just fine. This recipe yields just about 2 cups of jam…which is more than enough for me for a few weeks.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

This is one of the few tasks that I actually wear rubber gloves for, to help avoid staining my hands bright red.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

How to use a cherry pitter

I use an old fashioned cherry pitter.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

It squeezes together like a pair of scissors, and has a long spike on one end.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

When you squeeze the pitter, the spike skewers the cherry and pops the pit right out. (It also tends to squirt out a little cherry juice, so be careful where you pit your cherries.)

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Sweet Cherry Jam

2 lbs. cherries, pitted and stemmed
zest from 1 lemon
juice from 2 lemons
1 1/2 – 1 3/4 cups sugar

Yields about 2 cups of jam

Pit your cherries

Toss your cherries in a colander and rinse them well under cold water.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Heap them in a pile on the counter and grab a bowl.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Grab your cherry pitter.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Pull the stem off a cherry and set it on your pitter like this:

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Squeeze the pitter closed, which will drive the spike through the center of the cherry.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

This will send the cherry pit shooting out the other end of the pitter.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Put the pitted cherry in your bowl. Repeat with the rest of your cherries until you’ve pitted them all. (I think this took me about 20 minutes, maybe a little less.)

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Chop half the pitted cherries

Once you’ve pitted all your cherries, take about half of them and set them on a board.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Roughly chop them up.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Put the chopped cherries back with in the bowl with the whole cherries.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Throw all the cherries in a medium-sized, heavy-bottomed pot.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Zest and juice the lemons

Quickly scrape the zest off one lemon.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

(You can zest both lemons, but I prefer less zest, so I only do one.)

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Then slice both lemons in half and squeeze them into the pot. (I used a lemon reamer to be sure to get as much juice as I could.)

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Toss in the lemon zest.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Give the pot a stir to combine your ingredients.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Simmer the fruit mixture

Set the pot on the stove over medium-high heat. After a few minutes, the juice in the pot should come up to a simmer.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Give it a stir. Drop the heat to low. Cover the pot and crack the lid a smidge. You want the fruit mixture to just simmer.

Keep a close eye on the pot. If the heat is too high, it can bubble up and over on you. (Take my word from experience…hot cherry juice is a m-e-s-s you don’t want to clean up.)

Simmer the fruit mixture like this 15-20 minutes.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

After 15-20 minutes, the fruit should be soft and fairly broken down, like this:

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Add the sugar to the fruit mixture

Add the sugar to the pot.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Give the pot a stir to combine well. Raise the heat and bring it back up to a simmer. Cook like this, uncovered, for maybe 6-8 minutes more.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

As the jam simmers, it will thicken.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

You want the jam mixture to get visibly thicker.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

When you stir the jam, it should be so thick that you can see the bottom of the pot, like this:

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

How to test the jam for doneness

When it looks and feels thicker, give it a test. Dip the back of a metal spoon into the mixture. It should coat the back well, like this:

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Next, drop a blob of jam onto a ceramic plate.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Put the plate in the freezer for a few minutes. When the jam is good and cold, give it a push with your finger. If it forms a skin and wrinkles up, like this, it should be thick enough to set up nicely.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Cool the jam and enjoy!

Take the jam pot off the stove and let it cool to room temperature. When it’s cool, transfer it to a bowl, cover it, and pop it in the fridge to cool completely.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Keep your jam tightly wrapped in the fridge and use up within the next few weeks.

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

Enjoy!

Sweet Cherry Jam at The Hungry Mouse

 

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.

37 COMMENTS

  1. This looks great.You always take such great photos to add with your recipes.
    We are into jam.I am in to Cherry glaze on duck and my question is making this and then adding some balsamic vinegar to make the glaze would I need to add more sugar to make the glaze thicker??
    Or will cooking do it naturally.See I like the idea of using a jam instead of just whole cherries on the duck.
    Would love to hear your opinion on this.
    Great article!

  2. This looks great. I just got one of those cherry pitters from OXO (has a guard on it that prevents the juice from splattering)- and the cherries come out nice and clean. My 8 year old is asking me to make cherry recipes so he can pit all of the cherries for me. Will keep jam in mind!!

  3. This is now cooling on the back of my stove! The tastes I’ve sneaked so far have been delicious. Thanks for the inspiration, and the very helpful picture tutorial 😀

      • 2 years later and I’m still making it. I use two limes these days (with zest of both) and skimp on the sugar. totally a favorite 🙂

  4. Many thanks for this – exactly what I was looking for! I picked a kg of wild cherries this morning (what a find!) and want to make jam. I love the way you illustrate every step of your recipe with photos – so helpful.

  5. This is cooling on my stove and looks delicious. I did find I needed to cook it 40 min after adding the sugar to get it thick. Maybe because I doubled the recipe and only used the minimal amount of sugar. (3 cups) I have a Norpro cherry stoner that has an automatic feed tray and catch hopper that really makes short work of the pitting process. It was only $20. I highly recommend it. Thanks for the inspiration.

    • Hi Ginger!

      So glad you liked it! It definitely took you longer to cook because you changed the ratio of sugar to cherries. That said, I’m glad it turned out well! And I’ve been eyeing one of those cherry stoners you mentioned. I may have to pick one up.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

      • The more likely reason for the longer cooking time is the amount of humidity in the air. Here in Missouri, it took me about an hour to condense the mixture down to the proper thickness. Rather than a true simmer, I kept the mixture at a low boil, stirring constantly. The results were wonderfully thick with a concentrated black cherry flavor that reminded me of the cherry preserves my grandmother used to make. Now, if I could only find the secret to her luscious Peach preserves.

        • Hmmm, that’s an interesting thought about the humidity. :/ I wonder…

          Hey, my mom has a fabulous peach jam recipe. If I can get her to share it, I’ll make some for you when peaches are in season.

          Cheers!
          +Jessie

    • Hmmm, did you do the freezer test on your batch? Because if it wound up too thick, I’d wager you cooked it too long.

      As for the lemon juice, that’s a subjective thing. I like how the tartness of the lemon balances out the sweetness of the jam. But everyone’s palate is a little different. Sorry you didn’t like it.

      +Jessie

  6. Is there a reason that the jam needs to be kept in the fridge? I would have thought that the amount of sugar would act as a preservative. Also the jars would have been sterilised I would think.

    • Hey Chris,

      You have to keep it in the fridge because it’s not properly canned in a water bath. I never bother canning it because it’s a relatively small batch of jam, and there’s more than enough sugar to keep it in the fridge for a few weeks. But you could certainly can it–and like you said, if you did that, you’d need to sterilize the jars.

      Cheers!
      +Jessie

  7. Here in Missouri, it took me about an hour to condense the mixture down to the proper thickness. Rather than a true simmer, I kept the mixture at a low boil, stirring constantly.

  8. A really well produced recipe. We made a scaled up version – 8kg of pitted cherries with 5kg of sugar. It took quite a while to reach set but was good in the end and the taste made it worthwhile! If I could make a sugestion though, could you give metric equivalents, we Europeans have great difficulty converting from cups to kilos.

  9. Wow, this is a great how to recipe. We picked, no joke, 20 pounds of cherries yesterday. My kids and I are a little extreme about our cherry love. We have an orchard nearby that grows a variety called “coral champagne”. They are rare and are the most amazing cherries I have ever had. We mostly just live on cherries for three weeks when they are in season. So looking forward to extending the love with preserves, thanks!

    • Sure thing. I haven’t tried that with this specific recipe, but I don’t see why not. You might need to simmer it a little longer since frozen fruit will typically let out more water. Just do the tests for doneness and you should be fine. Let me know?

      +Jessie

  10. This was the first jam/jelly I ever made and it came out perfectly! Thank you for the detailed instructions and super tasty recipe!

  11. hello hungry mouse! i have a question… if you accidentally boil it down too long and it comes out way too firm, is there any way to fix it after the fact? i thought maybe boiling it again with some more water, but i’m not sure, i’m totally new at this. otherwise it tastes great. thanks! 🙂

  12. I just made my second batch of your wonderful cherry jam. I canned this batch to save for presents and it came out great. One tip for your followers. I am at 5700 foot elevation and had to cook twice as long at least, so don’t worry it will thicken!!

    Thank you for this visual receipe!! It was fun!

  13. I just added this as another weekend project because the cherries delivered in Las Vegas have been tasty this year. (one of the reasons I miss Washington) Thanks for the delicious pics.

  14. Tried this today. I got 3 x 250 ml jars (1 cup each), and a little left over. I find it pretty tart. I like tart things, but I find the lemon flavour takes over. Will this mellow out at all? I did process mine in a canner, so maybe that will help. If I were to use the zest and the juice from just one lemon, would that allow enough pectin to set?

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