I’ve Got to Find Sweet Cherries – Simple Cherry Preserves

We’ve been fortunate to get our hands on some delicious cherries this summer. Of course, the season is so short. I thought I’d try my hand at drawing it out a bit longer since we’ve all been enjoying this sweet ruby fruit so much.

Homemade Cherry Preserves

The first time I made these preserves they were for these lovely little black forest cakes. Just the thought of black forest cakes takes me back a few years (it’s not often I hear of them anymore) but there was something else that convinced me that I should make the preserves instead of pop out to the shop and pick up a jar. Recently, the realization struck of just how quickly time is flying by and how everything is so rushed. Making these preserves from scratch — well, it brought a few moments of slowing things down. Took us back to simpler times.

As the cherries cooked down, Katie napped and we (Emma and I) sat on the floor and quietly chatted. We finally had a reprieve from the past few oppressively hot summer days. The cool breeze coming through the open windows swayed the curtains just slightly and carried the sweet smell of the preserves around the room. Just for a few minutes, there was no technology, no rushing off to lessons/appointments/whatever, no one knocking at the door — just me and my Emma, making something lasting that beautiful summer day.

Simple Cherry Preserves

adapted slightly from The Cilantropist
(makes approximately 2 cups)

  • 4 cups sweet cherries, washed, pitted and coarsely chopped
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • scant 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar

Place cherries and lemon juice into a medium saucepan and over medium-high heat, cook until the mixture starts to simmer (you’ll see bubbles forming). Reduce the heat to medium and continue to simmer, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pour in the sugars and mix until dissolved. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue to cook for another 10 minutes or so, stirring often, but not constantly, to ensure the preserves don’t burn. Remove the saucepan from heat and test to see if the preserves are ready. You can do this by measuring the temperature (220F) or by dipping a cold spoon into the mixture and if it slides off of the spoon in a sheet rather than single drops, it is ready.

Let the preserves cool for 10 minutes and pour into clear jars. Once cooled completely, close the jars. Refrigerate and enjoy!

Tips and Suggestions:

  • Try a more chunky preserve by leaving the cherries whole or cutting them in half. Because I was going to use them between cake layers, I needed a smoother texture.
  • I don’t use a water bath to actually can these preserves — just standard plastic lids. Although I’d like to learn about canning, it’s not been the time for it — yet!
  • Sugar is an important part of making jam. It helps in both preserving as well as making sure the mixture isn’t too liquid. Reducing it too much can have a significant impact on your product.

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