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Sour Cherry Preserves

Fresh sour cherries are a fleeting summer treasure. Make Sour Cherry Preserves to enjoy that special flavor any time of year.

A cherry pie is pure summer bliss, the perfect pie. Sweet cherries are delicious and I love them for snacking, but I don’t think they make a great pie filling. For pie, you need sour cherries.

I’ve never seen fresh sour cherries in my local market. They have a very short season and don’t keep well, just a day or two in the refrigerator. If you have a chance to get your hands on fresh sour cherries, jump on it.

Sour Cherries on a tree

About 10 years ago I planted a sour cherry tree in my back yard hoping to have enough fruit to bake cherry pies to my heart’s content.

This year the tree just exploded with little red cherries. The ripening fruits are really beautiful to see, hanging like little lanterns from the branches. I’ve already got several quarts of pitted cherries in the freezer and more are ripening every day. I’m playing with all kinds of cherry recipes. I’m such a food geek that I’m embarrassingly delighted with my bumper crop of fruit.

a basket of sour cherries, a cherry pitter and two plastic containers on a kitchen counter.
I’ve tried several type of pitters and this is my favorite.
Pitted sour cherries in a glass bowl.
Combine the pitted cherries with sugar and pectin. Save those pits!

I wanted to offer you an absolute basic way to preserve this fleeting treasure trove. Cherry preserves are made with pitted whole cherries cooked with sugar and a little fruit pectin to thicken the juices.

You can either refrigerate the preserves or can them for longer storage. Visit the Ball Canning Website for directions and information on how to can the preserves.

Preserves are looser and a little less sweet than jam. You can use these preserves as a topping for toast or pancakes, spoon it over ice cream or yogurt, bake in puff pastry for a cherry turnover, or maybe just dip a spoon right into the jar for a little treat.

Sterilized jars and lids ready for filling.
Sterilized jars and lids ready for filling.
Sour Cherry Preserves
Sour Cherry Preserves

Got Sour Cherries? Here are some more recipes for you: Sour Cherry Crumb Pie, Sour Cherry Strudel, Sour Cherry Cobbler, Rustic Sour Cherry Cake, New York Cheesecake with Sour Cherry topping.

If you love this recipe as much as I do, I’d really appreciate a 5-star review.

Sour Cherry Preserves

Sour Cherry Preserves

Yield: 3 half pint jars
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Fresh sour cherries don't last long. Preserves allow you to enjoy them year round.


  • 1 # (454g) sour cherries, cleaned and pitted (weigh after pitting)
  • 2 tablespoons Ball Classic Pectin
  • 1 2/3 cups (14 oz, 396g) granulated sugar


  1. Combine cherries and pectin in a small saucepan. Turn the heat to medium high and bring the mixture to a boil.
  2. Add the sugar and return to a boil. Allow the preserves to boil vigorously for 1 full minute, stirring constantly.
  3. Ladle the hot preserves into hot and sterilized canning jars. Wipe the rim of each jar with a damp paper towel to make sure it's clean and attached canning lids.
  4. Process the jars in a hot water bath for 10 minutes for long term storage


The preserves can be refrigerated for a week or two or processed in sterilized canning jars for longer storage. See the Ball Canning Website for information and directions for home canning.

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