Sour Cherry Preserves

The allure of transforming fresh, tart cherries into a delightful preserve is undeniable. It’s a dance of simplicity and flavor, where the sour cherries, with their vibrant hue and puckering taste, meet the sweetness of sugar in a harmonious blend. This recipe captures the essence of summer in a jar. It’s not just about preserving cherries; it’s about bottling up sunshine, laughter, and those lazy afternoons.

Imagine spreading this ruby-red concoction on a warm toast or swirling it into your morning yogurt. The possibilities are endless and oh-so-delicious. The process, steeped in tradition, is surprisingly straightforward, yet the result is nothing short of extraordinary. It’s a journey of transformation, where the humble sour cherry becomes a luxurious preserve. Ready to embark on this delightful culinary adventure? Scroll down to discover the magic of making your own Sour-Cherry Preserves.

Sour Cherry Preserves

What You’ll Need for This Recipe

Embarking on this culinary journey requires a few key players. Each ingredient plays a pivotal role in creating the perfect preserve. Let’s break them down:

Fresh Sour Cherries (3 pounds): The star of the show! These cherries bring the perfect balance of tartness and color. Freshness is key here. Look for cherries that are firm, plump, and have a vibrant color. Remember, the quality of your cherries directly influences the final taste of your preserves.

Sugar (3 ½ cups): Sweetness to counterbalance the tartness. Sugar not only sweetens but also helps in preserving the cherries. It draws out the natural juices, creating that syrupy goodness we all love in a preserve.

Fresh Lemon Juice (¼ cup): A splash of brightness! Lemon juice adds a zesty note, enhancing the cherries’ natural flavors. It’s also crucial for the setting process, providing the right acidity level for the preserves to thicken beautifully.

Kosher Salt (¼ teaspoon): The unsung hero. A pinch of salt might seem insignificant, but it’s essential. It heightens the flavors, making the cherries and sugar sing in harmony.

How to Make Sour Cherry Preserves

Transforming cherries into a luscious preserve is an art. It’s a process filled with little moments of joy. Here’s how you can create this delightful treat:

Combine Ingredients: Start by taking a nonreactive bowl. Mix together your pitted sour cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and a pinch of kosher salt. It’s a simple beginning, but oh, the magic that ensues!

Macerate the Cherries: Let this mixture stand, giving it a gentle stir now and then. You’re looking for the cherries to start releasing their juices. This process, called maceration, takes about an hour. Patience is key.

Refrigerate with Parchment: After the cherries have begun to macerate, cover the surface with a parchment round. This little step helps in even maceration. Pop the bowl into the refrigerator. Let it sit there for at least 8 hours, or even a full day if you can wait. The longer, the better.

Strain and Cook the Juices: Remove the bowl from the fridge and let it stand for about 30 minutes. Strain the mixture, but keep those precious cherry solids! Pour the juices into a pot and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat and let it simmer. You’re aiming to reduce it by half until it’s syrupy. This takes around 16 to 18 minutes.

Add Cherry Solids Back: Now, reintroduce the cherry solids to the pot. Bring it back to a simmer. Stir gently and cook for about 3 minutes. You want the fruit to be plump and just beginning to soften.

Cool and Jar: Let the mixture cool slightly before transferring it to jars. Then, let it cool completely. Seal the jars and refrigerate. Your preserves are ready to be enjoyed for up to a month!

What We Love About This Recipe

There’s a lot to adore about this Sour-Cherry Preserves recipe. First and foremost, it’s the simplicity. Just a handful of ingredients come together to create something that tastes like a gourmet treat. It’s a reminder that sometimes, the best flavors come from the simplest combinations.

Then, there’s the versatility. These preserves aren’t just for spreading on toast (though they’re divine in that classic role). They’re a fantastic addition to yogurt, a delightful swirl in your morning oatmeal, or even a sweet surprise in a savory dish. The possibilities are as limitless as your imagination.

The process itself is a joy. There’s something deeply satisfying about watching the cherries transform, about stirring the pot and watching as the mixture thickens and bubbles. It’s not just cooking; it’s a little bit of kitchen magic.

And let’s not forget the taste. The balance of tart and sweet hits just the right note. The cherries retain a bit of their bite, a reminder of sunny days and fresh fruit. Each spoonful is a burst of summer, no matter what the calendar says.

Recipe Variations for Sour Cherry Preserves

Who says you can’t play with your food? Especially when it comes to preserves. This Sour-Cherry Preserves recipe is a canvas for your culinary creativity. Here are some delightful variations to try:

Spiced Cherry Preserves: Add a cinnamon stick or a few cloves to the mixture while it simmers. It infuses a warm, spicy note that’s perfect for cozy mornings.

Cherry-Orange Twist: Grate some orange zest into the preserves. The citrusy brightness of orange wonderfully complements the tartness of the cherries.

Cherry-Vanilla Dream: A vanilla bean can work wonders. Split one open and add it to the pot. It brings a subtle, sweet fragrance that elevates the preserves to a dessert-worthy level.

Boozy Cherries: For an adult twist, add a splash of brandy or bourbon towards the end of the cooking process. It adds a rich, deep flavor that’s absolutely divine.

Cherry-Berry Blend: Mix in some raspberries or blackberries for a berrylicious variation. The combination of different berries adds layers of flavor and a beautiful texture.

If you’re in the mood to explore more jam recipes, our Raspberry Rose Jam is a must-try. Its unique blend of flavors complements the Sour-Cherry Preserves, making it a great addition to your homemade jam collection.

Sour Cherry Preserves

Pairing and Serving Suggestions for Sour Cherry Preserves

The beauty of these Sour-Cherry Preserves lies not just in their taste, but also in how versatile they are when it comes to pairing and serving. Here are some mouth-watering ideas:

Classic Breakfast Spread: Slather it on warm, buttered toast or fresh croissants. It’s a simple yet heavenly way to start your day.

Yogurt Parfait Partner: Layer it in a parfait with Greek yogurt and granola. The tartness of the cherries cuts through the creaminess of the yogurt beautifully.

Cheese Board Charm: Add a dollop on a cheese board. It pairs wonderfully with creamy cheeses like Brie or sharp ones like aged Cheddar.

Pancake and Waffle Topping: Replace your regular syrup with these preserves. It adds a delightful twist to your pancakes and waffles.

Ice Cream Companion: Top off a scoop of vanilla ice cream with these preserves. The contrast of warm preserves and cold ice cream is a treat.

Tea Time Treat: Serve it with scones and clotted cream for an elegant tea time.

Glaze for Meats: Use it as a glaze for pork or chicken. The sweet and tart flavor complements savory dishes wonderfully.

For those who love the combination of sweet and sour, our Homemade Sweet Sour Canned Lemon Pickle is another recipe you shouldn’t miss. It pairs wonderfully with the Sour-Cherry Preserves for a diverse flavor experience.

FAQ – Sour Cherry Preserves

Can I use frozen cherries for this recipe?

Absolutely! While fresh cherries are ideal, frozen ones work just fine. Just make sure to thaw them completely and drain any excess liquid before starting.

How long do these preserves last?

When stored properly in the refrigerator, your preserves will stay fresh and delicious for up to a month. It’s all about keeping them cool and covered.

Can I reduce the sugar in the recipe?

Sugar isn’t just for sweetness; it helps in preservation. Reducing it might affect the shelf life and texture. If you must, try a small batch first to see how it turns out.

Is it necessary to use a nonreactive bowl?

Yes, it is. Nonreactive bowls, like glass or ceramic, prevent any unwanted chemical reactions that can alter the flavor of your preserves.

Can I can these preserves for longer storage?

You sure can! Just follow proper canning procedures to ensure they’re safely preserved. It’s a great way to enjoy the taste of summer all year round.

What if my preserves are too runny?

Don’t worry! Sometimes, the pectin levels in cherries vary. Just simmer the mixture a bit longer to achieve the desired consistency.

Can I add other fruits to the mix?

Of course! Feel free to experiment with adding other berries or fruits. Just keep an eye on the sweetness and acidity levels.

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Sour Cherry Preserves

Sour Cherry Preserves

  • Author: Brianna
  • Total Time: 9 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: Approximately 4 cups 1x


Indulge in the homemade delight of Sour-Cherry Preserves, a perfect blend of tart cherries and sweetness. This recipe is a must-try for anyone who loves to add a touch of homemade goodness to their meals.


  • 3 pounds fresh sour cherries, rinsed, drained, and pitted
  • 3 ½ cups sugar
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt


  1. Combine cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and salt in a nonreactive bowl.
  2. Let stand for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.
  3. Cover with parchment and refrigerate for 8 hours to 1 day.
  4. Strain, boil the juices until reduced by half, then add cherry solids.
  5. Simmer for 3 minutes, cool slightly, and transfer to jars.


Use a nonreactive bowl to prevent flavor alteration.

Adjust sugar according to the tartness of the cherries.

Can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a month.

  • Prep Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Category: Preserves
  • Method: Simmering
  • Cuisine: American


  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 50
  • Sugar: 12g
  • Sodium: 5mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 0g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 13g
  • Fiber: 0.5g
  • Protein: 0.1g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: Sour Cherry Preserves, Homemade Jam, Cherry Recipe, Fruit Preserves, Summer Preserves, Easy Jam Recipe, Tart Cherry Jam, Breakfast Spread, Cherry Preserve Recipe

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