Sour Cherry Heaven


Sour cherries are one of those ephemeral gifts of nature: if everything goes right, and it’s not too hot, or too cold, and it rains just enough, but not too much, and it doesn’t hail, cherry growers (and eaters) are rewarded with about two weeks of sweet-tart perfection. Because they are so precious, I had never tried to preserve them before this year—I have yet to arrive at the U-Pick the appropriate week, and they’re quite expensive at my local farmer’s market in Clark Park. Last year, though, Marisa over at Food in Jars gave me a rather extraordinary jar of her sour cherry preserves. I wanted some of my own, and, by God, I was going to have some.

But then I went on vacation and missed the harvest at Mood’s. Yet again.

Oh well, I thought. Isn’t eating locally all about learning that food is all about timing?

But to my surprise, some of our market’s Pennsylvania farmers showed up with a few boxes of sour cherries. I bought three pints for $3 each and dived in. I ended up with 4 pints of absolutely divine sour cherry preserves, then promptly opened one jar back up to serve to friends. And next year, I’ll pick my own and can all I want. Really.

Sour Cherry Preserves

3 pints sour cherries, pitted
2 1/2 c. sugar
Juice of one lemon
1 T real vanilla (or use a bean)
1 cinnamon stick

1) Combine all of the ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil. This is never going to gel, but bring it close to the gelling point. I used a candy thermometer and cooked it to 214°F (at sea level). Fish out the cinnamon stick and the vanilla bean, if you’re using them, and turn off the heat.

2) Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and prepare 4 half-pint jars. Prepare your lids. Transfer the hot preserves to the hot jars and adjust the two-piece lids. Process in a boiling-water bath for 10 minutes.

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6 comments to Sour Cherry Heaven

  • Rebecca

    The cherry season was extraordinary here this year! I canned Oxheart cherries in port, maraschino cherries with Queen Annes, cherry vanilla pie filling with sour cherries, and last of all came along this dark, rich, deep black cherry with unbelievable sweetness who’s name I missed, that I turned into goat cheese cherry ice cream using this recipe from IcecreamIreland.com: http://icecreamireland.com/2009/06/17/goats-cheese-ice-cream/ The tangy taste of the ice cream just set off those pitted and chopped cherries and juice stirred in at the end of the churning!!

  • I finally got to play with sour cherries this year as well. I was so excited that our current heat wave could not prevent me from canning sour cherry jam (with no commercial pectin) and picking way more then I should. The u-pick was only open for 1 day. I blogged about the sour cherries today as well.

    -Robin

  • This wasn’t a good year for sour cherries up here but I did manage to pick 12 pounds. Mine became a pie, some canned for later pies, and about 8 jelly jars of Cherry Marmalade. Your post reminded me that I hadn’t put it on my blog yet. Here’s my Cherry Marmalade. I should try cherry preserves next year.

  • I almost missed out on cherry season due to vacation, but refused to give in and drove all over to get the last of the cherries, sweet and sour. They are sitting in the freezer, awaiting their chance. These preserves look incredible!

  • This is my first year working with cherries and I think it is a particularly good one for cherries here in the UK. I’ve been trying to experience everything possible I can maker with them but still haven’t made a sour cherry pie. May go see if I can pick some more this week so I feel I’ve given it my best shot. There are still some Morellos on the tree. Pitting them is a labour of love though.

  • I just bought sour cherries for the first time ever and this recipe sounds delicious but I have no idea how much a pint is. Can you tell I’m not an experienced canner? Anyway, are you able to tell me about how much that would be, either in volume or in weight? Thanks.

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