Making and canning cherry jam is easy and almost necessary if you'd like to cherries to eat all year long. Cherries are only affordable, at least for my family, when they come into season in the summer. We buy them by the case and put-up as many as we can; besides, homemade jam tastes ten times better than anything you'll find in the store. My boys will no longer eat commercially canned peach or cherry jam. (Click here for how to make peach jam).
Cherries happen to be one of my favorite fruits, maybe it's because I usually only buy them fresh once a year and look forward to them coming into season or maybe it's because they were designed to be savored. After all, it takes a moment to eat them after you find the seed, spit it out then finally enjoy the fruit. Cherries are worth the effort it takes to eat them because they are delicious and full of nutrition. Cherries are packed with antioxidants and much more.
How To Make And Can Cherry Jam Step-by-Step:
Wash your cherries. Be sure to use veggie wash.
Pit your cherries. As you see in the photo each child is using a different pitter. For more information on each pitters click here.
Did I mention we buy cherries by the case?
Wash your jars, lids and tops.
Place your jars on a cookie sheet and place them in the oven. I don't even bother to dry them; the heat from the oven will dry them. I heat them to 350 F° for 10 minutes to sterilize the jars then I turn the oven down to 200 F° until I'm ready to fill my jars. There is some debate as to whether you actually need to sterilize your jars to can jam. I have always done this and it only takes a minute so it makes me feel better to take every precaution I possibly can. Go ahead and place your canner on the stove over high heat and place your lids and rings in a pot and place them over medium heat to soften the seal.
To make the jam you will need:
8 c of cherries
1 2/3 c water
6 T low sugar pectin
2 c sugar
5 T lemon juice
Chop your cherries. You can use a knife but with the food processor the process goes faster.
Here is a closer shot of how small the cherries are chopped. I like the larger pieces in the jam. You can chopped them up more if you are not a fan of the chunks.
Since I am using pectin it is necessary to work in small batches. If you work in large batches the pectin might not set properly. Pectin won't work if it gets overheated and it's fairly sensitive so working in smaller batches prevents anything from going wrong. Here you can see I have doubled everything in the picture. I have the exact same measurements as I listed above. I just have two of each ingredient. So I'm going to put one batch into one pot and the one batch into the other. I'll have two batches on the stove at once. If you are making one batch you'll just have one pot on the stove.
Add the water.
Add the lemon juice.
Slowly add the pectin.
Bring the mixture to a rolling boil that can not be stirred down.
Add the sugar and keep stirring. Bring the mixture back up to a hard boil for one minute. Now, you're ready to fill your jars.
Take your jars out of the oven and fill them with the cherry jam.
Leave 1/4 in headspace. I love this handy tool that helps me measure head space.
Turn it over and get air bubbles out with it.
Wipe your jars rims. You need to have clean rims to insure that your lids will seal properly. You can see the cherry jam has a lot of foam in this picture. There is nothing wrong with the foam and it is safe to can. However, if you are giving jam away as a gift you might want to skim off the foam as it's not attractive. You can also skim it off at this point or before you fill your jars - just be sure you keep the proper headspace and make sure that it doesn't overflow onto your jar rims.
Here is a great trick to keeping those lids separated. Place the lids inside the rings before you place them into the pan to heat and loosen the seal. (Update: Ball no longer recommends doing this. So after you've washed your lids just place them in a bowl and set them aside until your ready to use them)
You can grab the lid every time without the lids sticking together. It helps to have this magnet grabber.
Place the lids on the jar.
Place the rings on the jars and tighten “finger tight.” Finger tight means not too tight and not too loose. Just tighten them as far as they will go without forcing them.
Place the jars in the canner. Each batch makes two quarts or 4 pints or 8 1/2 pints.
This is my favorite water bath canner by Victorio. It comes with a glass lid so you can always see what's going on. Make sure you have a least an inch of water above your jars after you lower the rack into the water. Bring the water to a boil and start the timer. Cherry jam should be processed (boiled) for 10 minutes, adjusting for altitude. You can find adjustments for altitude here. To look up your altitude go here. Turn off the heat and let the jars sit in the water for about 5 minutes.
Then remove the jars from the canner.
Let your jars sit and cool for at least eight hours. Remove the rings. If the rings stay on and the lid fails (becomes unsealed) while the ring is on, the lid may reseal itself. However, bacteria has already invaded the jar and the food should not be eaten; with the ring left on there is no way you will know about the resealing. If the rings are off the lid has no pressure to reseal itself so if the lid seal fails then you’ll know and you can throw that jar out. Label and put away.
See, I told you it was super easy!