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A cherry jam recipe is a must in every kitchen and my low sugar no pectin cherry jam recipe is the way jam should be. High on flavor instead of bucket fulls of sugar.
I had the pleasure of hosting a canning party with another mom and we knocked out two batches of this cherry jam without pectin and two runs of canned cherries. Not bad considering there were five kids running in and out and we did it in five hours. Psst, want to come in my kitchen and have me teach you how to pressure can? Click here for info on my FREE Pressure Canning Video Series!
We used Rainier cherries, which are considered a sweet cherry the first year. They’re actually a cross between a Van and a Bing cherry. But you get a gorgeous deep jewel red color and can totally make this a bing cherry jam recipe by using all Bing cherries, which is what I did last summer.
Harvest Note: Whenever you pick cherries, be sure to leave the stem on, until just ready to use. Once you remove the stem, you allow oxygen into the cherry and it will turn brown and break down faster.
Resources for Cherry Jam Recipe
If making things from scratch the old-fashioned way without chemicals and a ton of store bought ingredients, you’re going to love The Made-From-Scratch Life.
Included are my great-grandmothers and grandmother’s recipes for jams and jelly without store bought pectin. Learn how to preserve food the old-fashioned way complete with charts, lists, and time tested recipes! P.S. check out the bonuses –> The Made-From-Scratch Life
Get it here–> Free Old-Fashioned Jam & Jelly Guide
Classic Zester- this little beauty makes getting that pectin luscious lemon zest into your strawberry jam without the bitter pith so easy.
Stainless Steel Canner– (Safe for glass top stoves) this water bath canner won’t rust like the granite wear runs and will be your trusty side kick in the kitchen for years to come.
Progressive International GPC-5000 Cherry-It Multiple Cherry Pitter this makes things go much quicker and is so worth it.
The Pampered Chef Cutting Edge Food Chopper because chopping up fruit is not where I want to spend my time and I’m all about making quick work when possible.
This is a sweet cherry jam recipe, but if you have tart cherries, simply increase the amount of sugar.
Update: I’ve increased the processing time to reach a gel as a few people have had to use a longer time to get a gel. I’ve always reached a gel with the shorter time but I am using sweet cherries, not tart or pie cherries. I recommend testing for the gel point at the 15 minute mark and only continuing to cook if it’s not gelled yet.
5 cups sweet cherries, pitted and chopped
2 to 3 cups sugar (depends on sweetness of cherries & your taste preference)
5 tablespoons lemon juice
Wash, remove stems, and pit cherries. Get the cherry pitter!
Roughly chop up cherries. Place chopped cherries in a large stock pot. Add 1/2 cup water to cherries. Bring to a boil and allow to simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. You’ll see the cherries begin to break down and thicken.
Stir in sugar and lemon juice, mixing well. Bring to a full rolling boil, stirring constantly. Sugar will scorch quickly if not kept moving.
Boil, uncovered, till thick, about 25 minutes, and has reached the gel point via the sheet test. Remove from heat and pour into hot jars.
Note: It’s set when it sticks to the back of a metal spoon. This is called sheeting. Look at the jam dripping off the edge of the spoon. It should look like a “sheet” of jam, not a bunch of individual drops. See the free jam & jelly guide for more information. Cherry jam is not meant to be extremely thick. It’s a thinner jam, excellent on pancakes, waffles, toast, etc.
Wipe rims with a damp towel, put on lids and bands. Submerge in hot water bath and process for 15 minutes.
Take off of heat and let sit for 5 minutes before moving to a folded towel. Let sit for at least 12 hours before checking seals on jars. Then store in a cool dark place for up to a year. If any jars didn’t set, store in fridge.
Want to make this into cherry freezer jam instead? Simply put into freezer containers after jam has reached the gel point and freeze instead of processing via the water bath.
Make 3 pints or 6 jelly jars.
In a hurry and want the convenience of cherry jam with a 2 minute boil time (before processing) while still using low sugar?
The only store bought pectin I use on our homestead is Pomona’s Pectin because it doesn’t rely on sugar for the set (it uses calcium instead) and is the only non-GMO pectin I’ve found without questionable ingredients.
Plus, 1 box makes multiple batches of jam and you can even do completely no sugar batches, which you can’t do the old-fashioned way because you need sugar to reach the gelling point. And no, I’m not sponsored by Pomona’s, but if they’re reading this, I’d totally take a box of pectin in exchange!
This is the bulk option of Pomona’s Pectin I purchased last year and the best price I’ve found for 6 boxes.
8 cups smashed pitted cherries
1/4 cup lemon juice
3 cups sugar
2 Tablespoons powdered pectin (in your Pomona’s box)
2 Tablespoons + 2 teaspoons calcium water (comes with your box of Pomona’s pectin)
We had this on fresh bread last night for a snack and it was soooo good. Don’t throw those pits away either. Place them in jar and then cover with vinegar. Put in a dark cupboard for a few weeks and you’ll have cherry pit vinegar. Strain vinegar and enjoy!Print
Old-fashioned cherry jam recipe high on taste but low on sugar!
There you have it, the perfect and easy cherry jam recipe. What’s your favorite thing to eat with your cherry jam?
Melissa K. Norris inspires people's faith and pioneer roots with her books, podcast, and blog. Melissa lives with her husband and two children in their own little house in the big woods in the foothills of the North Cascade Mountains. When she's not wrangling chickens and cattle, you can find her stuffing Mason jars with homegrown food and playing with flour and sugar in the kitchen.