Food & Drink Magazine

Sour Cherry Jam

By Skfsullivan @spectacularlyd

SOUR CHERRY JAMFresh sour cherries are a rarity here on Long Island as well as back in the city. I imagine they can be found at certain times, in certain markets, but I’ve never come across them.  Being more fragile and having a shorter shelf life than the popular grocery store varieties, sour cherries can’t travel far from home without first being canned or frozen.

Delicacy notwithstanding, the appeal of sour cherries is the delightful wince of tartness which is counterbalanced by the sweet goo or pastry that usually surrounds it.  Good as these recipes for Freestyle Frangipane Cherry Pie and Yellow Cherry Clafouti are, they would be transcendent made with sour cherries. Same with this Nutty Blonde Cherry Jam. 

The sour cherries for this jam were snapped up at Nye’s Farmstand in St. Joseph, MI.  The sours are kept in cold isolation; sharp eyes will note the itty-bitty sign behind the heartier cherries on display. Nye’s was good in the signage department. Their “If you find yourself with nothing to do, here are some possibilities” list was very impressive. I suggested a similar sign sign be posted in our office but the notion got a very chilly response.

Back to the jam — most recipes call for chopped fruit but here the cherries are only cut in half, so you get nice chunks of sour fruit swimming in thick cherry juice ooze.

Now about that sour/sweet balance.  No Sugar Pectin is used here because it allows you to significantly reduce the amount of sugar used. This is a flavor choice, rather than caloric or health-realted. I don’t go the full no-sugar/artificial sweetener route that this type of pectin allows.  Use the instructions included with pectin to customize the recipe to the amount of fruit you have.

The measurements here produce a just-set gel. It will be firm when chilled but thick and runny at room temp. As the jam came to a boil, it gelled while still boiling, hence the addition of water.  Do a check when the jam comes to the boil. The smear-on-a-chilled-plate-in-the-freezer trick works well. 


1 lb. sour cherries (should = 2 cups)
1 c. sugar
1 T. Ball No Sugar Needed Pectin
Water as needed

Cut the cherries in half, remove pits. Working over a bowl or plate to collect any errant juices, cut the cherries in half and discard the pits.

Mix 1 T. No Sugar Needed Pectin with 1/4 c. of cherry juice.  In a heavy pot combine the pectin/juice mix with the all the rest of the cherries and juice. Bring to a boil, stirring. When boiling, add the sugar, stirring well to mix.

When the jam comes to a full boil check the consistency. If the jam seems overly thick while still boiling, add a little water and bring back to the boil. In this recipe I added 1/3 c. water, which produced a very light set.  Half of that, 3 or 4 Tablespooons of water, will make a firmer set.

One pound of cherries makes three half-pint jars of jam. You can put them up using sterilized jars and lids with a boiling water bath for 5 minutes. However this is such a good one chances are it will be devoured soon enough, so fridge storage would be fine. 

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