This chocolate cherry sauce canning recipe is a must-make!
Of all the summer fruits, cherries are my favorite by far. I love to eat them fresh, I love to dehydrate them and eat them dried, I love to make old-fashioned low sugar cherry jam and of course canned cherry pie filling can’t be beaten (in my humble opinion).
I love both sweet and sour cherries pretty much equally too. I grew up eating mostly sweet black cherries from the Okanagan Valley in the interior of BC, not far from where I live. But when we moved to Vancouver Island a few years ago and ended up renting a property with an established sour cherry tree, I started gravitating toward sour cherries, and most of my canning and preserving was done with the sour cherries from that tree.
Still, I can never resist buying a bag of organic Okanagan sweet cherries from the grocery store in the summertime, because they truly are something we can’t just get anytime of year. And so, last year, I decided I wanted to try preserving sweet cherries in some capacity too.
I flipped through my Ball canning book for a little inspiration and came across a recipe for Black Forest Preserves, made with sweet cherries and cocoa. Now, I mentioned I love cherries, but cherries with chocolate?? Is there anything more delicious?
I was sold, and so I decided to try a batch for myself.
In the end, I ended up canning two batches, each of which called for two packages of liquid pectin. But neither batch thickened quite as much as I expected a preserve to set. Instead the end product was more like a thick, chocolate cherry sauce, almost more like a syrup.
Now, if I was making a jelly, this would usually be pretty disheartening. After all, who wants their jelly to be runny and syrupy? But in this case… O.M.G. The sauce was so delicious I ended up eating an entire jar with a spoon within 24 hours of canning it!
In the end I was glad that the pectin didn’t thicken the preserves too much, and over the course of the past year we’ve enjoyed at least a dozen jars of our “accidental” chocolate cherry sauce poured over vanilla ice cream, on top of yogurt, as a decadent dip for other fruit like strawberries and sliced bananas, and yes, many spoonfuls have been enjoyed right out of the jar!
Naturally, when we opened our last jar about a month ago, I knew I had to put chocolate cherry sauce on my canning list for the summer. The only problem was how to guarantee the same results as last time! Because I definitely wanted a syrup, not a thick preserve!
To be fair, it’s possible that this recipe was always meant to be thinner than your average fruit preserve. But I've read comments and reviews on this recipe on other blogs from people who say they made this with both packs of pectin and the preserve did turn out too thick for their liking. So I decided to cut down on the pectin this year and just use one pack of liquid pectin per batch instead.
I ended up making two batches and was pleased to get a perfect chocolate cherry sauce both times. It was slightly thinner than last year’s batch, naturally. But I found the consistency to be perfect for all the things we use this sauce for, and after putting an open jar in the fridge for just a few minutes, the sauce thickened up just enough to make it just slightly more viscous and less runny. So if you do find that this sauce is just a little too runny for your liking, go ahead and pop it in the fridge for 15 or 20 minutes before using and it should thicken up just a bit.
Of course, you can always try making a batch with two pouches of liquid pectin and you should get a thicker preserve, however it may turn out a little too thick if you’re going for a sauce like I was, so I would recommend sticking to just one pouch of pectin to guarantee syrupy, saucy results every time.
However, if you’ve made the Black Forest Preserves recipe from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, I would LOVE to know how it turned out! Did you end up with more of a sauce like me or did yours set more like a jellied preserve? Let me know in the comments below!
And if you don't have this awesome little canning funnel with the headspace marked on it, you better snag one!
Chocolate Cherry Sauce Canning Recipe
Fill your canner with enough water to completely cover the tops of the jars by 1 inch. Place jars in hot soapy water.
In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder and set aside.
In a large, stainless steel pot, combine chopped, pitted cherries and lemon juice, then stir in the sugar and cocoa mixture and, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that can’t be stirred down. Add the liquid pectin and continue to stir. Boil hard for one minute and then remove from the heat.
Skim off the foam from the top and ladle chocolate cherry sauce into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace at the top. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed, then wipe the jar rim and place lids on and screw bands down.
Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (adjust time for altitude if over 1,000 feet).
Chocolate Cherry Sauce Canning Recipe
- 6 cups sugar
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
- 3 cups firmly packed coarsely chopped pitted sweet black cherries
- ½ cup lemon juice*
- 1 pouch 3 oz. / 85 ml. liquid pectin**
- Prepare canner, jars and lids.
- In a mixing bowl, combine sugar and cocoa powder and set aside.
- In a large, stainless steel pot, combine chopped, pitted cherries and lemon juice, then stir in the sugar and cocoa mixture and, stirring constantly, bring to a full rolling boil that can’t be stirred down.
- Add the liquid pectin and continue to stir. Boil hard for one minute and then remove from the heat.
- Skim off the foam from the top and ladle chocolate cherry sauce into hot, sterilized jars, leaving ¼-inch headspace at the top. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if needed, then wipe the jar rim and place lids on and screw bands down.
- Process jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes (adjust time for altitude if over 1,000 feet). Once finished, remove canner lid and wait another 5 minutes before removing jars. Allow to cool on the counter completely and then store in a cool, dark place until ready to use.
Is canning chocolate cherry sauce now in your summer preserving plans?
And of course, let me know what you think of this adapted chocolate cherry sauce canning recipe too!