Low-Sugar Sour Cherry Jam Without Pectin

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Photo by Andrea Chesman.
Sour cherries aren't great for eating out of hand, so making them into jams and toppings makes good use of them.
6 half pints SERVINGS


  • 4-1⁄2 pounds cherries
  • 2-1⁄4 cups sugar or honey


  • Stem and pit the cherries. You should have 12 cups. Purée the fruit in a food processor until it’s finely chopped. Or, if you prefer, process it until it’s puréed.
  • Transfer the cherries to a large, heavy saucepan and add the sweetener. Bring the mixture to a boil and boil for about 30 minutes, until thick, stirring frequently, 10 to 15 minutes. You’ll have reached the jam stage when a spoonful of jam dropped onto a cold plate holds its shape and you can leave a trail by passing your finger through the mixture.
  • Remove from the heat and skim off any foam. Ladle the hot jam into clean, hot half-pint jars, leaving a 1⁄2-inch headspace. Install new canning jar lids. Process in a boiling water bath or atmospheric steam canner for 15 minutes. Remove from the canner and allow jars to cool undisturbed for 12 hours. Store processed jars in a cool, dry place. Store opened jars in the refrigerator. Find other low-sugar jam recipes and learn more about preserving with less sugar and added pectin in Making Low-Sugar Jams.
    Andrea Chesman cooks, writes, and teaches in Vermont, where she lives on a 1-acre homestead. Find her books Serving Up the Harvest and The Backyard Homestead Book of Kitchen Know-How in our online store.

If you have an abundance of sour cherries, you know you won’t be enjoying them out of hand as you would with sweet cherries, so putting them up as jam or pie filling makes sense. If you’re fortunate enough to have more sweet cherries than you can eat fresh, follow this same recipe, but cut back on the sweetener and add 3 tablespoons bottled lemon juice. Yield: about 6 half-pints.

Low-Sugar Sour Cherry Jam Recipe