Sour Cherry Jam

Sour cherries have a relatively short season. I’ve never found them in a grocery store but we visited a u-pick to pick raspberries and, to my delight, discovered three rows of sour cherry trees.

Sour cherries are gems to find because although they aren’t necessarily for snacking, they make some of the best jams and baked goods around. So, even if you can’t find them at your grocers or farmers market make sure to check out some u-picks nearby. They are worth every ounce of trouble to get them.

If you don’t have a cherry pitter, no worries, I don’t either. Depending on what I’m using the cherries for I will either cut the cherry in half and remove the pit with my fingers or, if I want to use the cherries whole, I use the wavy end of a clean bobby pin to loosen the pit from the stem end and then insert the bobby pin through the other end and push the pit through. At first it may take a bit to catch on to the technique but once you’ve got it down it’s easy peasy.

Sour cherry jam was definitely on the top of my list of things to make with the cherries. But, as I was pitting them I was still having a bit of a tough time deciding how I wanted to use these precious jewels. A lot of people stay clear of sour cherries simply because they don’t know what to do with them, if you’re in that camp here are a couple of ideas to put them to good use.

1. Cherry Pie

There are so many ways to make a pie. You can make a classic double crust pie, or turn it into mini cherry pies by baking them in muffins cups, a slab pie by rolling it out and baking it on a baking sheet, or hand pies by rolling out the dough, cutting it into squares and folding them over a pocket of filling.

2. Candied Cherries

Candy some cherries and store them in the freezer. Turn them into Black Forest Ice Cream, bake them into scones, serve them over vanilla ice cream, or serve them in a trifle. Don’t forget to save the syrup and serve it over pancakes or stir it into sparkling water.

3. Baked Goods

I think sour cherries are even better in baking then sweet cherries, they add another dimension of flavor and ensure that the baked goods are not too sweet. Make a cherry crisp, clafoutis, or coffee cake.

4. Pie Filling

Make some cherry pie filling and freeze it in 1 cup portions to use in recipes other then cherry pie. Try it layered with chocolate pudding or served on puff pastry along with whipped cream. Make a cheesecake, bake it in the middle of some muffins or serve it atop pavlovas.

5. Frozen

Freeze some pitted cherries and save them for a later date. You can let them thaw and use them in any of the applications above or use them frozen in Cherry Limeade Popsicles (or Cherry Limeade Slushies), smoothies or blender ice cream.

6. Jam

Jam isn’t just for toast. Use it as a filling for doughnuts, bake them into bars or stir some into yogurt.

You can use sour cherries in pretty much any application that calls for sweet cherries (as in some of the links above), just remember that they are sour so you may need to add more sweetener.

Sour Cherry Jam

4.5 from 8 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Preserves
Servings: 3 cups
Calories: 818kcal
Author: Cheri


  • 6 cups pitted sour cherries
  • 2.5 cups sugar


  • Prepare a boiling water bath and 3 - 250 ml jars as per our canning basics post. Place the lids in a small saucepan, cover them with water, and simmer over very low heat.
  • Stir together cherries and sugar in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil rapidly for 20-40 minutes (time will depend on the size of pot, etc), until it passes the wrinkle test*.
  • Remove the pot from the heat and ladle the jam into the prepared jars. Wipe the rims, apply the lids and rings, and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Or put into jars/tupperware and freeze for up to 6 months.
  • Turn off canner, then carefully lift jars out and set on a towel on the counter to cool. Let sit 24 hours, then check that all have sealed. Label and store in a cool place.


Wrinkle Test: Place a small plate in the freezer while you make your jam. Once you think the jam is ready place a dollop on the frozen plate and return to the freezer for two minutes. Remove the plate from the freezer and push through the jam with your finger, there should be a slight film on top that wrinkles as you push. If it’s not ready yet, boil it for a few more minutes and repeat the test.


Calories: 818kcal | Carbohydrates: 210g | Protein: 2g | Sodium: 1mg | Potassium: 612mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 201g | Vitamin A: 175IU | Vitamin C: 19.3mg | Calcium: 36mg | Iron: 1.1mg


Do you bake with sour cherries? What are your favorite ways to use them?

About Cheri

Cheri is a mother of two and a Canadian expat living in Norway. With a passion for quick and simple food, Cheri shares recipes, tips and tricks on her food blog,

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  1. I used to live at an apartment that had several sour cherry trees out front. I baked pies and crisps with them which were quite delicious. I would have liked some sweet cherries, though, because I would have preferred to have all that easy snacking right outside my door.

  2. 5 stars
    Even though I am a fan of sweet cherries, I know how delicious sour cherries jam can be. I thought that making this jam is a complicated process. But it’s not 🙂 . I might give it a try. Thanks!

  3. I found a upick for sweet cherries this year–I can always find sour cherries nearby. I froze some unpitted, and they make a great quick icy snack. We just spit the pits (hopefully not at each other) like fresh cherries! It practically creates a party to get a bag out of the freezer!

  4. These make the BEST pies. I have memories from childhood where we’d go pick them and bring them home to make pies. Mmm.

  5. i’ve never cooked with sour cherries, but you’ve inspired me to do so!

  6. I walked by someone’s house the other day and they had a tree dripping with sour cherries in their front yard…it was SO hard to not sneak some. I definitely want to find a U-pick so I can make some jam!

    • Reg Easton says

      5 stars
      There is no possible way the homeowner could use all those tasty cherries. I’ll bet if you rang their doorbell, they would be happy to share with you.

  7. our family loves fresh sour cherries, the first taste gets us all puckered up but after that, it’s only yumminess. I found a slick and quick hand pitter at Lee Valley for 10$, if you have access to that store.

  8. Delicious! Thanks for sharing the other ideas for sour cherries, too!

  9. Sour makes some of the very best sweets, we’ve seen it for years with Lemons! I should try adding them to my morning smoothies instead of limes and seeing how that works out. Thank you 😀

  10. Sour cherries were very hard to get this year because we had bad weather for them, but I managed to snag some to make some jam. Yours looks beautiful. 🙂

  11. I LOVE sour cherries! I located a baby tree just so I could plant my own as they are very hard to find here. It was so worth it!

  12. I love it! I need to can and jar things a bit more… capture those flavors of summer to enjoy in the winter too!

  13. Wow! I’m so jealous that you found sour cherries. I keep an eye out for them each year but haven’t come across them in Alberta yet. That jam looks amazing.. and I’d be all over making a sour cherry pie or some sort of sour cherry braided danish. Sigh. Maybe next summer

    • I’m actually currently living in Alberta as well. Not sure where you are but I’ve found a couple of u-picks that have them. I got these ones from The Blooming Fields: and they also have them at Red Lodge They may have them somewhere else as well but those are the two I know of. Hopefully you can nab some quick before they’re gone!

      • Thank you so much! I’ll check out those links asap

        • Yay! AB girls connecting. Love it. 🙂

          • Hello ladies! I had the good fortune to grow up on a farm in central AB, and a few years ago my mom planted a whole bunch of sour cherry trees (Evan cherries, I believe). They do so well in the prairies because they are very well adapted to drought–my mom says if you try to ‘baby’ them too much, they don’t like it! 🙂
            Anyway, just thought I’d mention it as they’d be a great addition to any yard! I used some of the farm cherries for a pie a few weeks ago and it was amazing! I will also have to try this jam–looks so good!

          • That’s awesome Christine! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

      • Saskatoon Berry Farm has them. A half an hour south of Calgary.

    • Christine Bly says

      We live in Edmonton and there are quite a few sour (Evan’s) cherry trees around. We get a big harvest every year off ours. I usually just pit and freeze them whole to use in cakes, or our favourite, Chocolate cherry smoothies for breakfast . Yummm. My kids ask for them all year. I just add some chocolate milk powder and milk to the frozen cherries and blend!

    • I live in Red Deer Alberta . Sour cherries are around .Look for a Rose cherry or Evans cherry. Look on line for a out of town greenhouse if you tried your own city, and e-mail them good luck.
      Ps I make a cherry sauce and have it w chocolate cake and whip cream.
      Good luck Wendy L

    • Barb Pattison says

      Hi Stephanie. We have a u-pick with sour cherries in Alberta. We will soon have many, many to pick. You are welcome to come and see us. We are located 30 min. from St. Paul (NE of Edmonton. Phone (780) 726-3801.

    • You can buy an Evans cherry tree for about $70 at most garden centers….I use the Saskatoon Farm south of Calgary. Mine produced the first year and now, five years later, I harvested 40 lbs off one tree. As an added bonus it’s a really nice tree and absolutely beautiful in full bloom.

  14. I wish it was still cherry season! I haven’t seen cherries around for a while. I’ll save this for next year. 🙂 Oh, and I’ve never actually had a sour cherry. I’m not the biggest cherry fan, so only my husband buys them, and he’s only gotten the sweet ones. Gotta try sour next year!

  15. Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies says

    5 stars
    I have an entire bag of sour cherries in my freezer from a upick earlier this summer. I think I just found the best use for them – then we can enjoy them all winter long.

  16. Oh, you’ve hit on my favorite fruit of all time! I will routinely pick 10-12 pounds of cherries when they’re in season and go to town with them. Have you ever tried them pickled? Do a sweet brine with peppercorns, cinnamon, and anise – TO DIE FOR.

  17. The sour cherries haven’t quite come in yet here in Washington State. When they do in a week or two, I’m buying 30# of pitted pie cherries from a local produce delivery service. Ought to last all year in the freezer and make with lots of pies, black forest cake, crumbles, and compotes. I’ll have to keep your list of culinary possibilities for them in mind.

    • Can you give me more info on shipping sour cherries, I have a sister in California who is very interested in getting abt 50 lbs.

  18. 5 stars
    I just found this recipe on Pinterest and having been given a nice batch of fresh sour cherries from a friend decided to try it. Delicious! Easy and it gelled just fine. I appreciate that it has less sugar than most jams, it has a nice tart cherry taste without being sour. Thank you for sharing this!

  19. 5 stars
    I can’t believe I made this! I thought the cherry tree outside was only for my amusement. I am not good at this kind of thing, but 3 (exactly 3 250ml jars of delicious cherry jam) are on my counter. A Bernardin Home Canning Starter Kit, and this recipe was all it took (and shipping the kids off to my sister’s for the afternoon). I’m still at the point where this whole endeavor doesn’t pay off (a la $50 for the home canning starter kit) but I think I’m hooked. Anything for banana peppers?

  20. Why don’t you need pectin? The other recipes I’ve found use it, but yours doesn’t. Tomorrow will be my first canning experience (with sour cherries from a friend’s house), so I’m doing my research! Thanks!

    • Amy, pectin will help the jam “jell” via a chemical reaction; jam without pectin gets thicker via evaporation. Some people believe that longer cooking impacts the fruitiness of the jam.

  21. Great recipe! I missed the cherries this year, but hope to make a bunch next year. Have any of you tried dried sour cherries? The drying concentrates the sugars in the cherries, but there’s still a bit of sour. There’s a restaurant in Missoula, MT that makes a salad with dried sour cherries, walnuts and an aged cheese of some sort (not really a cheese aficionado) on the lettuce. I love them by themselves for snacks, too.

    • I make a salad with baby spinach leaves, chopped almonds and cherries with a balsamic vinaigrette. No real recipe, I just plop the ingredients into a bowl. So good. This salad is good with dried cranberries, too.

  22. I’m in Devon, AB and my cherries are ready to be picked! I am going to try this as regular pectin did not gell and Pomona’s Pectin gelled but crystallizes when refrigerated. I used my dehydrator so have a bunch of gorgeous dried sour cherries. I also made some awesome liqueur as well. Usually ready by Christmas and a gorgeous red colour. Like a sour cherry schnapps… Good on ice cream!

  23. What I find really works great is using a plastic drinking straw to pit cherries! Depending on how many you have to pit, you might go through a few, but it pushes the pit out beautifully!

  24. Hi, I was just wondering why this recipe has no pectin and will it set well? can I store the james outside the fridge and roughly for how long? Thanks!

  25. My supervisor made sour cherry wine last year and it was fantastic! The aftertaste reminded me of my mother’s cherry pie.

  26. My little Evan’s cherry tree in Calgary, Alberta gave me 40 lbs of cherries this year. I bottled 24 – 125 ml bottles and 12 – 250 ml bottles using this basic recipe as a starter but I added almond extract for one batch and almond extract and cinnamon for my second batch. Absolutely delicious!! Using up the rest for candied cherries because I really have too much jam. Planted a 2nd tree this year, not because I need it but because I love making my own jam. I plan on giving away many bottles…….I just need enough to last me until next August. Thanks for the recipe, it’s been a hit with everyone who has sampled it.

  27. 5 stars
    I have a sour cherry tree and have an incredible harvest this year. I tried your recipe a few days ago and love it! Can this recipe be successfully doubled?
    Thank you!

  28. Some recipes for canning/jarring sour cherry jam seem to call for an acid like lemon juice which I’m assuming is to help with the preserving in a jar for longer storage. Is there any need to add this? How long do your jars last when store in a cool place as you indicate? (I’m super excited to try this in a few weeks!)

  29. 1 star
    The jam recipe did not work for me. The cherries stayed whole swimming in the liquid. I had to chop them eventually to make it jam-like.

  30. Kim Dingler says

    5 stars
    Such a great recipe I have a dwarf sour cherry tree that yielded 8 cups of pitted cherries this year. I made 4 cups into pie filling for black forest cake, and made 2/3 of this recipe, adding 1/4 of a minced scotch bonnet pepper. OMG it’s good. Not too sweet. Nice spicy bite. Will be awesome with some brie on crackers. YUMMMMMMY!

  31. Does anyone know if there’s a sour cherry supplier than can ship about 50 lbs fresh or frozen sour cherries to California for a reasonable price?

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