Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam

Capture the delicious taste of fresh cherries and enjoy it all year long! This Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam is super easy, and there are no canning skills needed! It will even transform the humble PB&J to an epicurean delight!

Every year, when cherry season comes around, I find myself eating my weight in this delicious, crimson fruit. The season is so fleeting, I want to fully savor it. I love to make cobblers, ice cream, sorbets, pies, cakes, focaccia (delicious!) and… Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam!

Overhead photo of a bowl of Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam with an adjacent bowl of fresh cherries.

If you’re in the grocery store and you see something like this…

Advertisement for fresh Northwest and Rainier cherries

…stop dead in your tracks and fill up a BIG bag of these fabulous red jewels. By next week, they’ll probably be much more expensive! It’s cherry time right now, and the local markets have displays piled high – but it won’t last long.

Ultra closeup photo of a pile of cherries

It dawned on me one day, while I was nibbling on a handful of perfectly ripe cherries, that I could capture the delicious, summery flavor and enjoy it all through the year by making cherry freezer jam!

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What’s the difference between freezer jam and traditional cooked jam?

  • Freezer jam isn’t (or is barely) cooked and comes together very quickly. Traditional jam takes longer to make, as there is cooking time involved.
  • Freezer jam is stored in the freezer in lieu of canning.
  • Freezer jam uses less sugar than conventional cooked jam, as it’s not needed as a preservative, just as a sweetener.
  • You can use any kind of container for storage instead of the glass jars that are necessary for conventional jam.

I’m a huge fan of freezer jam because it’s a wonderful way to preserve the delicious flavors of summer fruit without the fuss, heat, equipment, and time that canned jams require. And because it’s barely cooked, it retains the beautiful color of the fresh fruit. If you compare the a batch of freezer jam and traditional jam made with the same variety of fruit, you’ll be shocked at the vibrant hue of the freezer jam vs. the cooked jam!

Photo of Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam in a bowl and a spoon with jam drizzling down the side of a white jar filled with jam.

A little kitchen workhorse

When working with cherries, it does help immensely to have a cherry pitter. I picked up this one by OXO several years ago, and honestly, it’s worth it’s weight in gold. I pitted all the cherries for this jam in less than 5 minutes.

Photo of a hand cherry pitting tool.

After removing the small pits, I gave them just a few pulses in the food processor, but a knife or a chopper would work as well. Just make sure not to pulse or chop them too fine. You want nice bits of fruit in the finished jam.

 

 

Overhead photo of a spoon overflowing with Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam.

A problem with freezer jam

One last thing about freezer jam. One of the main drawbacks to freezer jam is that, because it’s not cooked, it can be difficult to completely dissolve the sugar which gives the jam a “grainy/sugary” texture. With a bit of trial and error, I figured out that a short stint in the microwave will totally eliminate the problem, and yet the flavor is still fresh and the jam retains it’s beautiful hue.

So, go ahead, take 30 minutes today for a delicious summer taste sensation you can enjoy all year long! You’ll be thanking yourself when the cold winds blow and your having this wonderful jam on toast, biscuits, bagels, hard rolls, yogurt…

Café Tips for making this Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam

  • Pectin, a thickening agent is necessary for making freezer jam. Most fruits actually contain some of their own pectin, but not enough to give a good consistency. Pectin can be purchased either in powder or liquid form. In this Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam, I used the powdered version. Pectin can be quite expensive but, with experimentation, I learned that generic versions work as well as the big name brands and are usually much less expensive. Although this recipe calls for Sure-Jell, I have also had great results with the Kroger brand, as well as other generic pectins.
  • Don’t substitute one type of pectin for the other. The powdered and liquid versions call for different proportions of sugar and fruit.
  • Even if you’ve never made jam before and don’t feel like one of those old-fashioned super cooks, I promise, you can do this!  You really can; and your family/friends will be quite thrilled with you. A pat on the back just might be in order too!
  • If you don’t have a ton of freezer space, freezer jam can be prepared and poured into quart-size ziplock bags. Squeeze out the air, seal the bags and stack them flat in the freezer. When you’re ready to use it, just thaw then empty the contents of the bag into a jam/jelly jar.
  • If you buy new jars for making jam, save the box that the jars are packaged in. It’s a perfect, compact place to store your jam in the freezer and you don’t end up with jars going missing in the freezer.
  • How to pit cherries? Use a cherry pitter! It will make the job so… much easier! I find that the best place to do it is right in my kitchen sink. Put two bowls in the sink, one for the stones and one for the pitted cherries. There will be a little splatter with each cherry and it will be confined to the sink.
  • There are lots of recipes in which you can “fudge” a little when measuring ingredients and still have success. I’m the queen of that! DON’T do it with jam! Jam is an exact science. Measure very carefully and level your measuring cups at the top. Don’t skimp or over do the amount of any of the ingredients called for.

What I used to make and serve this Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam

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Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam

Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam - capture summer in a jar with this delicious, super easy jam.

4.9 from 11 reviews

A delicious taste of fresh cherries on your toast, sandwiches or dinner rolls – all year long!

  • Author:
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 3 minutes
  • Total Time: 33 minutes
  • Yield: 5 cups
  • Category: Jams and Jellies

Ingredients

  •  1-1/2-2 pounds fully ripe red sweet cherries (you’ll need 2 cups pitted and chopped cherries)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ¼ cups sugar, measured into separate bowl
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1 box SURE-JELL Fruit Pectin (see notes above in post)

Instructions

  1. Start with clean dry plastic containers or glass jars.
  2. Stem and pit cherries. I love using this cherry pitter. Coarsely chop fruit with a sharp knife or chopper. You can also give a few pulses in the food processor – not too many though, you want chunks of fruit in your jam. Measure exactly 2 cups of cherries into large microwave-safe bowl. Stir in lemon juice and sugar. Let stand 10 min., stirring occasionally.
  3. Place bowl in microwave and cook on high power for 3 minutes. Remove and stir. Most of the sugar should be dissolved. Taste the jam. If it still has a grainy texture, return to microwave for another minute or two.
  4. Combine water and pectin in small saucepan and stir till pectin is dissolved. Bring to boil on high heat, stirring constantly. Boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add to fruit mixture; stir 3 minutes.
  5. Fill prepared containers immediately to within 1/2 inch of tops. Wipe off top edges of containers and cover with lids right away. Let stand at room temperature 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Refrigerate up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to one year. Thaw in refrigerator before using.

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 42

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Just 30 minutes for a delicious taste of fresh cherries all year long! Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam is super easy and there are no canning skills needed!


67 thoughts on “Sweet Cherry Freezer Jam”

  • Hi, I just wandered where you found this recipe for sweet cherrys all my ball and canning books also the sure jell recipe. None list sweet cherrys only sour cherrys just curious thanks Mike

  • Hi
    Jam looks lovely and I will be making it!
    Have you tried this recipe with xylitol? It’s used in exactly the same proportions as sugar for diabetics in baking etc (low GI) and I wondered if it would work for freezer jam as it’s not a traditional preservative.

  • I tried this several days ago…never made jam before….it turned out very well! I had to microwave for about 6 minutes to disolve the sugar,but I was patient and voila! Jam!!!
    I made the recipe with red charries, but the Rainier cherries went on sale, so I will be making my second batch ! I was wondering if I could decrease the sugar to 3 1/2 cups instead of 4 1/2 cups….it was very sweet, but it IS jam,right? Thanks for the great recipe,Chris…I so enjoy your blog!

    • Hi Gayann,
      Bravo to you!! I told you that you could do it!! 🙂
      Don’t decrease the sugar as you won’t get the same results, as far as the proper consistency. HOWEVER, there is a low-sugar pectin you can purchase. It’s specially made to use less sugar. Just follow the directions for the cherry jam on the package.
      Thanks for your kind words 🙂

      • Chris, just made my second batch with a mix of Rainier and Red cherries…made it according to directions and did not decrease sugar….the only problem with this recipe is I cannot seem to stop making jam!!!!!

        • That’s awesome Gayann, I bet that mixed jam is a beautiful color!! I’m not sure if I bought Ranier cherries that they would make it to jam though, they’re so… good!!

  • Oh my goodness, Chris, these photos are stunning. Cherry season is so short and I want to make the most of it. I’m positively craving this jam now and I picked up some cherries at the farm yesterday so I know what I’ll be doing this weekend.
    Have a good one!

  • Hi there, I am from Canada and was wondering how much powdered pectin to use. We don’t have that brand here. The recipe sounds so good and it is cherry season here now! 🙂

  • I’ve used the reduced sugar pectin for years with great success. The sugar is only reduced by1/4 to 1/3 but every bit helps and I think the taste of the fruit comes out with less sugar.
    I also was going to comment on the price of your cherries as Von did 3 years ago I noticed the picture of the ad said “Northwest” cherries. Assume that might be from here in eastern Washington which is big in cherry growing, almost up there with our apples. ….but I can’t ever remember seeing Rainiers for less than $4.95 a pound, ever, even buying them at the source, ie. ‘farm stands’ at the edge of the orchards.

    • That’s great to know about the reduced sugar pectin Mel. Thanks!
      That’s so funny about the price of cherries. We actually live on the East coast in NC and I just bought a big bag of Raniers for 2.49/pound! Maybe it’s kind of like “A prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown”…
      We used to live in Wisconsin “the dairy state” and milk was often more expensive there than any where in the country!

  • This jam looks like gorgeous jewels! Rubies in a jar! Does Scott work in photography? Phil also likes the Ranier Cherries. We load up on all the different kinds when they are in season….which is so short.

    • Hi Ginny! Thanks, it does look quite jewel-like!
      Scottworks in photography now with the blog but it wasn’t his line of work. He’s always been photography buff though and did teach it years ago. I love his artistic eye. I could probably learn photography if I had to, but would never be able to capture the shots he does. I just don’t see the way he does, definitely a gift from God!!

  • I’ve never made jam before but you have inspired me and given me the pep talk that I can do it. Live in Washington state so cherries are everywhere this time of year. Thanks for the recipe.

  • This recipe seems to use the powdered pectin. would the liquid certo work as well. that’s all I have

    • Hi Irene, you can’t really interchange the powder and the liquid pectins. The proportions would be different. If you just have the liquid, follow the directions on the package if there’s a recipe for Cherry Freezer Jam – and you should be fine.

    • Katie, If I used any other pectin, I would make it with the proportions that they specify. Jam making with pectin is an exact science, so the right amounts of everything are critical.

  • I just made these with a bag of cherries I got at the grocery store and it looks amazing!!!! I can’t wait to make a peanut butter sandwich with cherry jam. I usually get my cherry jam at the amish farmer’s market but this will carry me thru the winter months and remind me of warmer sunny days. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

  • I just got done making Freezer Bing Cherry Jam. My recipe didn’t say to put it in the microwave for 3 minutes like yours and it turned out grainy. I have already added the pectin and only then did I realize it turned out grainy. Do you think I could put it in the microwave so I can dissolve the sugar? Or is it too late. Thank you.

  • Our Legacy Blueberries, Big Red Peaches are now ripe in Northern Michigan.: Add that with our wonderful Michigan Dark Sweet and Tart Cherries and the flavor is wonderful.
    Can’t wait for our Jersey Blueberries to ripen to make some more Cherry Blueberry Jam! Still waiting for the Blackberries to get ripe.
    I am looking for an easy freezer jam recipe for Plum Jam. Plums are ripe now too.
    Tank you for the wonderful easy jam recipes
    Bridgett

  • Your jam recipe sounds delicious. I love anything with cherries. I have been having fun making different recipes with fresh sweet cherries. Yum, Hugs, Terra

  • Your link to a cherry pitter at Amazon goes to a page with many choices. Which one do you like?

    I have a pitter that works well for soft sour cherries, but it struggled with the firmer sweet cherries. The jam was great in spite of that!

  • Woah….why are your cherries so cheap???? The cheapest ours ever get is at least twice that price >:( The jam sounds great- I really love cherries so definitely would love this! Your freezer sounds like an amazing place btw 😛

  • For the last month I’ve bought cherries every week with the intention of making jam or roasting them. So far we’ve just enjoyed them as they are, sweet and juicy. Time is running out and I’m going to have to buckle down and make some jam. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Chris, more wonderful freezer jam – the wonderful cherries that you used have an incredible color – amazing photos and recipe!

  • Oh my goodness those cherry photos are so beautiful!! I haven’t really seen a good batch of berries this summer… but I’ll be out at the market this week so we will see. I know they are due! LOVE the freezer jam idea… I’m not a very good canner. 🙂

  • I could eat a bowl of these cherries in one sitting I love them so much. I can imagine the flavor of this jam must be sensational and great on beef dishes as well.

    As for the pop up ads that show on my mobile device are so frustrating. I almost didn’t think I’d get to post a comment. I have no idea why they have to cover everything so you can’t read the post. But I managed to post a comment. Sorry for complaining.

  • While I’ve made a lot of jam, I’ve never made freezer jam. I can’t believe I’ve been that thoughtless. It’s the peak of strawberry season here so that’s what I’m going to do this week!

  • I just bought cherries for $1.48 lb. Isn’t that shocking? Rainer are much more expensive – much, much more. Now I need some sure jell.

    I think your link for the pitter is wrong. It takes me to Kraft.

    I need a bigger freezer. 🙂

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