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If you find yourself wondering what to do with so many cherries before their short-lived season is over, jam is the perfect answer – it lets you extend cherry season!  Mike and I generally don’t eat a lot of jam, so the 3 cups that I made with this recipe will probably last us at least 6 months in the fridge.  If you prefer, you can make a bigger batch and preserve the jam through canning.

Instead of using a box of store-bought pectin to gel my jam I wanted to make (or rather, extract) pectin from scratch for a couple reasons.  I had heard that it’s a fairly easy process and I really like the idea of taking something in its pure form and fully utilizing it.  Plus I didn’t want to make an entire batch of jam, which I would have had to do if I bought a box of pectin (it’s only Mike and I eating it and I don’t have canning equipment to preserve it).  In the end making pectin from scratch was the perfect answer. 

I found a wonderful article by Sam Thayer describing how to make your own apple pectin in detail.  The process is fairly easy, in fact, it’s actually very similar to making applesauce.  Just be forewarned that the pectin liquid has to strain out overnight, so plan your time accordingly if you want to make this.

The jam is absolutely delicious…if you’re finding it hard to say goodbye to cherry season I highly recommend making it!

Cherry Jam

(Yield:  About 3 c)

1 1/2 lb (about 5 medium or 6 small apples, or 6 c quartered apples) tart or under-ripe apples (I used Granny Smith apples)

1 c pomegranate juice (I used POM Wonderful)

3 c pitted and quartered cherries (heaping 3 c whole cherries) (I used sweet dark cherries but I think it would be even better with sour cherries)

2 c sugar

1 TB lemon juice

Heavy-bottomed 3-quart pot with a lid



Candy thermometer

Sterilized lidded jars

Wash and quarter the apples (leave the skin on and the core intact).  In a 3-quart pot with a lid over low heat, cook the quartered apples (including the skins and cores), pomegranate juice, and 1 c water (covered) for 2 hours, stirring every 15-20 minutes.  (The apple/pomegranate/water mixture will have the consistency of watery applesauce when it’s done cooking.)

Line a sieve with 4 layers of cheesecloth and place the sieve over a bowl to catch the apple pectin liquid that drips out.  Pour the applesauce mixture into the cheesecloth and let it drain overnight.  Do not squeeze or press the liquid out, since this will cause it to have more of the under-ripe apple flavor.  You should get about 1 c of apple pectin liquid; it will be a rosy color because of the pomegranate juice.

In a 3-quart pot with a lid over low heat, cook the apple pectin liquid and the cherries (covered) for 20 minutes, stirring frequently.  Turn the heat off and stir in the sugar and lemon juice. 

Attach a candy thermometer to the pot so you can read the temperature of the jam.  Turn the heat on low and cook until it reaches 220F, stirring very frequently (this took me about 35-40 minutes, but I think the time will probably vary a little based on heat and humidity).  You can manually test whether the jam has cooked long enough to gel through 2 methods:  (1) dip a wooden spoon into the jam and hold it sideways over the pot; the last jam to drip off should hang off the spoon in a bulging drop but not fall; or (2) freeze a plate, put a little jam onto the frozen plate, and put it back into the freeze for a few minutes; the jam should gel.

Once the temperature reaches 220F, cook another 5 minutes, stirring constantly (the temperature might climb a little, to about 224F), then turn off the heat and transfer to sterilized jars.  Leave it sit without jostling it (so it can gel) while it cools to room temperature.  Store in the refrigerator or if you make a bigger batch you can preserve it through the canning process.

One way to tell whether the jam has cooked long enough is to dip a wooden spoon into it and hold the spoon sideways over the pot; if the last jam to drip off hangs off the spoon in a bulging drop but doesn’t fall, the jam is ready.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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  1. helen stewart says:

    i made cherry jam today, but it didn’t set properly. I have a lot of wonderful juice and would love to use it. Do you think i could freeze it to use in pork gravies etc?
    Far too beautiful and flavoursome to just throw out!!

    1. Hi Helen, I’ve used frozen juice in many things (smoothies, cold fruit soups, sorbets, etc.) and like you mentioned, pan gravy would be wonderful too!

  2. You are such a talented cook. You do everything and you do it well.

  3. Faith,
    You’ve solved a problem I’ve been pondering! I’ve been wanting to make some cherry jam without using powdered pectin ever since cherries have started appearing in the markets. Cherries are naturally low in pectin, so the addition of apple pectin is brilliant! This jam looks delicious, and I’m lovin’ the addition of pomegranate juice. Thanks for sharing :)

  4. Your jam looks absolutely delicious. Call me a pessimist but this feels a little out of my league. Although, a year ago before I started this blog, I didn’t think I could do half of what I have accomplished in the 7 months that I have been posting recipes. So maybe I shouldn’t sell myself so short! ;-)

  5. A beautiful jam, Faith! Most of the time, I am so busy eating them, I don’t have any left. They are my favorite mid-afternoon treat. However, this looks so good, it will be worth it to buy some extra just to make it.

  6. I’ve been wary of the canning process myself and would love to make some small batches! Love that you made you own pectin…you always amaze me with your sense of adventure. This jam looks absolutely delicious…I can almost taste it from here.

  7. You are so selling me on cherries – your jam is picture perfect!

  8. i go through a LOT of pectin, but i’ve never considered making my own–interesting concept! i think your jam is just gorgeous–a (labor-intensive and) lovely way to preserve their goodness!

  9. The Cherry jam look delicious. I sure your family would love to get a jar during the holidays. I’ve never made my own pectin before. Its a perfect use for apples that my kids reject because they are not crisp enough for them.

  10. This jam looks great. And you can always do a cheesecake or a tart to consume it faster. It is ideal for such sweets.

  11. I still have never tried making jam myself. I really should start with this one. Looks fantastic!

  12. I’ve only had “fake” cherry jam before…and they were awful. I had to throw the jar away. Now this, however, looks freaking delish and rich and fresh! I wouldn’t want to be pitting 3 lbs of cherries, though. How long did that take you?

    1. Sophia, It’s actually only 3 cups cherries, I’m not sure how many pounds it was (I’d say about 1 lb if I had to guess). With my cherry pitter it only took about 15 minutes to pit them all. The part that takes the longest is extracting the pectin since the apples need to cook for about 2 hours. It’s a really easy process though, pretty much the same as making applesauce. If you have the time, it’s definitely worth it in the end! :)

  13. I love that you made your own pectin for your lovely jam. Cherry is one of my most favorite flavors for jam!

  14. My aunt used to be the jam specialist and we never really truly barged in on her territory…cherry was her signature. My cousins haven’t yet let go of her recipes…so you know what…you just armed me with a fantastic recipe.

    Thanks a lot Faith for all your dedication.
    Have a great weekend,

  15. The color alone is just so inviting and this recipe gives me a good idea for the big basket of cherries waiting on my counter. Thanks for sharing!

  16. I am so impressed with your camera skills and photos. Your jam looks and sounds delicious. I really love to visit her. I hope the day is treating you well. Blessings…Mary

  17. Thats a great looking jam, i dont bother to have some rite now..

  18. I love that you made your own pectin! Bravo. I bet this cherry jam is amazing. it can go to so many uses throughout the year. I just had a cherry sauce I made this morning drizzled over my breakfast. xo

  19. Heavenly Housewife says:

    I love cherry jam, but I’d never considered making my own. This looks amazing, I love the big pieces of fruit in there :)

  20. As always Faith, it’s like you have a line straight to my heart (or stomach!). Cherry jam is my favourite flavour jam and making my own apple pectin is something that I’d love to do! :D

  21. Faith,

    Store bought jellies, jams, and peanut butter are vile. I love to make home made jams and jellies. I think I may have to steal this cheery jam.

    Sounds like an almond butter & cherry jam sandwich is in my near future!


  22. This looks so good! I like the idea of making homemade pectin too. Thanks for another yummy recipe!

  23. I just had cherry jam today so this is a very timely post! It was delicious but as always yours looks better because it looks SO fresh!

  24. I can’t say I’ve ever had cherry jam! What an irresistible idea! Love the pomegranate juice too – lovely flavor with cherries.

  25. Veronica M. says:

    This is just lovely! Look at you, a regular pioneer woman making your own pectin! You go girl.

  26. Cherry jam! What a great idea. I think we get so used to strawberry and blueberry jam that we forget all the other wonderful fruit that can be used.

  27. That looks delicious…..I tried to make cherry preserves last week and I burned ):

  28. Love the colour!
    I am sure it is perfection.

  29. Yum, especially on some homemade vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt!

  30. Faith,

    One more cherry lover is here waiting for a recipe. This one sound perfect.

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