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Cherry Preserves – Chocolate Cherry and Cherry Vanilla

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These easy cherry preserves capture two classic flavor combinations – Chocolate cherry and cherry vanilla. You can use either recipe for topping yogurt or ice cream, waffles, pancakes, this no bake cheesecake – or you can eat them straight out of the jar.

We're using sweet cherries for these recipes. I like Bing cherries for their rich, deep color and flavor. Both recipes start with 2 1/2 pounds of cherries.

Cherry Preserves - Chocolate Cherry and Cherry Vanilla

How to Make Cherry Preserves

Wash the cherries, remove stems and pits. Since these recipes use just a few cups of fruit, we sliced the berries in half on a cutting board and pulled out the pits.

sweet cherries

Before you start cooking the fruit, prep your jars, lids and canning equipment. I run my jars through the dishwasher or place them in the water bath canner as it's heating up.

See the Safe Home Canning guide for more information on canning equipment.

Place the cherries in a large, heavy bottomed pot with water and cocoa or vanilla, and simmer for 5 minutes. Measure out sugar and pectin into a medium bowl and mix well.

After the cherries have simmered, add calcium water, lemon juice, and additional seasonings. (Calcium water is included with Pomona's Pectin – more on that below.)

sweet cherries and vanilla bean

Bring cherry mixture to a boil over high heat, stirring regularly. Add pectin and sugar mix and stir until well blended.

Bring mixture back to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute and remove from heat.

cherry preserves in pot

Fill 8 ounce jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rims clean and screw on lid with ring. Process jars for 10 minutes in a water bath canner.

jars of preserves in canner

Remove jars from canner and place on a towel on the counter top to cool completely.

Remove rings and check seals. Date and label your cherry preserves and store in a cool, dry location out of direct sunlight. For best quality, use within 18 months. Store any open jars in the refrigerator and use within 1-2 weeks.

jars of homemade preserves
Finished cherry preserves sitting on the kitchen counter
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Chocolate Cherry Preserves

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Canning Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 45 cups 1x
  • Category: Preserve

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon calcium water (included in Pomona's Pectin package)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare jars, lids and bands; heat up canner and sterilize jars. Mix up calcium water.
  2. Rinse cherries, remove stems, slice in half and remove pits. Combine cherry halves, cocoa powder, and 1/2 cup water in a large sauce pan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes.
  3. While the mixture is heating, mix pectin and sugar in a separate bowl.
  4. Add cinnamon, cayenne pepper (if desired), lemon juice, and calcium water to chocolate cherry mix. Stir until blended.
  5. Bring the cherry mixture to a boil over high heat. Once the cherry mixture has reached a full boil, slowly add the pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil.
  6. Once the chocolate cherry preserves return to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat.
  7. To can the preserves, ladle preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims with a damp cloth and screw on lids finger tight.
  8. Lower jars into boiling water canner. Jars should not touch, and should be covered with at least 1-2 inches of water. Place lid on canner and return to rolling boil.
  9. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude if necessary). Turn off canner and move jars to towel on counter top. Let jars rest until completely cooled. (I usually let them sit overnight.)
  10. Check seals, remove rings, date and label. Store out of direct sunlight and use within 18 months for best quality.

Notes

The cinnamon and cayenne give these preserves more of a mole flavor, but it's fine to leave them out if you prefer.

You may substitute 1 teaspoon of citric acid for the 1/4 cup  lemon juice.

Keywords: cherries, sweet cherries, preserves, canning recipes, summer fruits

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Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

chocolate cherry preserves
Chocolate Cherry Preserves

What's the difference between preserves and jam?

Preserves and jams are similar in that they both contain fruit that's been jelled. For preserves, we leave fruits whole or in larger chunks. In jam, the fruit fruit is chopped and mashed and “jammed” together.

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Cherry Vanilla Preserves

The delicate flavor of vanilla compliments the sweetness of cherries in these yummy cherry preserves.

  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Canning Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 45 cups 1x
  • Category: Preserves

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 1/2 pounds fresh sweet cherries
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon calcium water (included in Pomona's Pectin package)
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Pomona's Pectin powder

Instructions

  1. Prepare jars, lids and bands; heat up canner and sterilize jars. Mix up calcium water.
  2. Rinse cherries, remove stems, slice in half and remove pits. Combine cherry halves and 1/2 cup water in a large sauce pan.
  3. Use a paring knife to slice the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and pod to the cherries. Bring the mixture to a boil over high heat, reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. While the mixture is heating, mix pectin and sugar in a separate bowl.
  5. Add the lemon juice and calcium water to cherry mix. Stir until blended.
  6. Bring the cherry mixture to a boil over high heat. Once the cherry mixture has reached a full boil, slowly add the pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve the pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil.
  7. Once the cherry vanilla preserves return to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat. Using tongs, carefully remove the vanilla bean from the preserves and discard.
  8. To can the preserves, ladle preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch head space. Wipe rims with a damp cloth and screw on lids finger tight.
  9. Lower jars into boiling water canner. Jars should not touch, and should be covered with at least 1-2 inches of water. Place lid on canner and return to rolling boil.
  10. Process jars for 10 minutes (adjust for altitude if necessary). Turn off canner and move jars to towel on counter top. Let jars rest until completely cooled. (I usually let them sit overnight.)
  11. Check seals, remove rings, date and label. Store out of direct sunlight and use within 18 months for best quality.

Notes

If you have citric acid on hand, you can substitute 1 teaspoon citric acid for the 1/4 cup lemon juice.

To make plain cherry preserves, just skip the vanilla bean. If you prefer, you can substitute 3/4 cup honey for the granulated sugar.

Keywords: cherries, sweet cherries, preserves, summer fruits, canning recipes

Did you make this recipe?

Share a photo and tag us — we can't wait to see what you've made!

cherry vanilla preserves
Cherry Vanilla Preserves

What is Pomona's Pectin?

Sweet cherries are naturally low in pectin, so to make a cherry preserve or jam, you need to either cook them for a long time, or add pectin.

I use Pomona's Universal pectin so the preserves set up with less sugar and less time on the stove top. One of our readers said, “You know CSH turned me on to Pomona pectin and I must say it’s the best tasting batch of strawberry jam I have ever processed!! Thank you.”

You might need to hunt around a bit to find it locally, or order Pomona's Pectin online, but it's worth the effort.

Pomona's pectin is a low methoxyl commercial pectin. What does that mean?

Fine Cooking has a detailed article on The Science of Pectin which gets into all the details.

To summarize, there are two types of commercial pectin – HM (high methoxyl) and LM (low methoxyl).

HM pectin uses sugar to get fruit to gel. LM pectin uses calcium. This means that our fruit reliably sets up with low or no sugar.

Each box of Pomona's Pectin comes with two packets. One packet is pectin, the other packet is calcium powder.

Before you start your jam, jelly, or preserves, you mix 1/2 teaspoon of calcium powder with 1/2 cup of water. This is your calcium water, and you can use one batch of calcium water to make many batches of fruit. I love that I get several batches of preserves out of one box of pectin.

strawberry rhubarb jam ingredients
Strawberry rhubarb jam ingredients – chopped rhubarb, cane sugar, chopped strawberries, and Pomona's Pectin

A Note on Acidity

In these recipes for cherry preserves, we add lemon juice. This helps ensure that the pH of the cherries is below 4.6, which is needed for water bath canning. It also helps the pectin to gel.

This leaves a faint taste of lemon in the preserves.

If you prefer, you can substitute citric acid, to eliminate the lemon flavor. You can get non GMO citric acid here.

I also use citric acid when I'm canning tomatoes. It's also used for sour candies, cleaning, and crafts.

More Unique Jams, Jellies, Spreads and Preserves

We have dozens of recipes for jams, jellies, preserves and spreads on the site, all listed on the Recipes and Kitchen Tips index page. They include:

Brandied Cinnamon Apple Preserves

Dandelion Jelly – An Easy Flower Jelly Recipe with Less Sugar

Apple Currant Spread – Low Sugar with a Touch of Cinnamon

Striped Jelly

Blushing Peach Jam

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