I made some delicious cherry jam a while back for a special recipe. This jam is super simple and totally fuss-free. With just 3 ingredients involved (cherries, maple syrup, and a lemon) and a sauce pan you can have yourself some tasty homemade fresh cherry jam, without the use of pectin or refined sugar, in no time.
Oh, and that special recipe I mentioned is none other than this no-bake black forest cake (I'll share a recipe for it next week -- so another reason to make a few batches in preparation, if you're interested ;) ):
I absolutely adore cherry jam. Well, I adore most jams (an early childhood peculiarity perhaps, since it was one of very few sweets I got to heartily enjoy), but cherry jam is definitely my all-time favorite. Morello jam, black cherry preserves, rainier, or really any cherry jam to be honest.... I just need to see the wonderful texture of those lovely chunks of cherry in there, oh and that beautiful deep red color, and I get all excited with possibilities :)
And in case you're wondering about the possibilities I'm dreaming of... here are a few of my favorite ways to enjoy it:
What to do with cherry jam
- Well, for one, I easily tuck right in with a spoon.
- Occasionally I recall that I should be civilized and put it on toast instead.
- If I'm feeling luxurious, toast + vegan cream cheese + cherry jam = a very good shortcut to a fancy dessert ;)
- I absolutely love it on a creamy and snowy white vegan cheesecake.
- And then of course, there's the ultimate thing: black forest cake :P
Possibilities, possibilities... But I'm getting ahead of myself. First we need some jam!
How to Make Cherry Jam
So here are a few pointers on how to make this type of easy cherry jam at home, along with some answers to some questions you might have, and explanations on my not-so-conventional method (in case you're wondering where's the sugar and pectin, and why is this recipe so small, etc.).
Jam recipe size
Well I'll start with the "small" batch part because it's the simplest. I just love small batch recipes... because I enjoy creating and trying out new things all the time. To be honest, I think I spent the entire month of August making jams of nearly every type of fruit I could lay my hands on :) -- variety is definitely key for me.
But, if you wanted to, you could easily double or triple the recipe here. Just keep in mind you'll need to let the mixture simmer a bit longer for it to condense properly, and use a bigger pot (the wider the pot, the more water can easily evaporate, and the thicker the jam will be).
For reference, this recipe will yield approximately 1 cup of jam.
Can you make this cherry jam with frozen cherries?
Absolutely. But I find the texture is a bit different. I prefer this recipe with fresh cherries as the texture remains a bit more "chunky," whereas with frozen cherries things get a bit more runny (more on that point later by the way). But if frozen cherries is all you've got, they will work too.
If using frozen cherries and you find that the end result is a bit runny, you can always sprinkle a bit of agar agar powder into the mixture (like 1 tsp) in the last minute of cooking. That will help to thicken the jam.
Cherry jam with maple syrup
Processed sugar (a key ingredient in many traditional jams) and I don't usually see eye to eye, so my preferred method of sweetening is with maple syrup-- in a recipe like this I also love the delicious deep flavor it imparts. I used a very dark maple syrup here to amplify this quality, though any maple syrup will work just fine.
This leads me to the next point..
Storage + how long does cherry jam last?
Typical jam are filled with a high concentration of sugar (most jam recipes comprise of equal parts of fruit to sugar), which acts as a preservative. Jams sweetened with alternate sweeteners are susceptible to not lasting as long. I had one batch of this last well over a month and a half in the fridge before it was consumed (and it was perfectly good to the end), so I think that's plenty of time for this little treat -- especially considering that this is a pretty small batch recipe so it probably won't last you long at all :)
Do keep it refrigerated though, and use a clean and sanitized glass jar to put it in to ensure it keeps well.
Homemade cherry jam without pectin:
The last point I wanted to mention is why this recipe (nor any of my jams typically) is made without pectin. And no, it's not because I think pectin is "bad" or there's something wrong with it :) To be honest, I'm just a "lazy" and "free-spirited" cook and baker (when possible) and enjoy the results without it just as well. Keeping it simple!
Pectin is an ingredient typically added to jams as a binder and thickener. It congeals things together to create a more "gel"-like consistency. Some fruits are naturally higher in pectin, some are lower. For the lower ones isolated commercial pectin can be added to help with this function. Alternatively sometimes a high pectin fruit (like apple) can be added to a low pectin fruit jam to help on that front.
Cherries are naturally low in pectin, so you might think you'd need it for making something like this, but I find it totally unnecessary. In any event, if my jam wanted to be a bit runny, I'd let it do it's thing -- after all, who doesn't love seeing that beautiful red trickle from a jam on top of cheesecake, for example? :)
That aside though, this particular fresh cherry jam has lots of beautiful texture to it and I wouldn't call it runny -- it's texture is surprisingly congealed naturally, perhaps because of the small batch size, the larger concentration of fruit, using fresh cherries, and a longer cooking time. It was everyone's favorite around here!Print
A delicious quick homemade fresh cherry jam made without pectin or refined sugar. The recipe is only 3 ingredients, and is maple-sweetened.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: approx. 1 cup
- Category: Jam
- Method: Cooked
- Cuisine: Breakfast
- 1 cup pitted and rough chopped fresh cherries (larger pieces are good!*)
- ⅓ cup dark maple syrup
- zest of 1 lemon
- juice of 1 lemon
1. Place all ingredients into a medium-small sauce pan (ideally one that's wide-mouthed, but still has tall-ish walls). Stir the mixture together to combine all the ingredients.
2. Bring to a light boil on medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Then reduce heat to medium-low (or low, as needed) and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.
3. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10-20 mins, then transfer the jam into a small glass jar or container.** Let it cool down to room temperature and then place (and store) in the fridge. Enjoy!
*For reference, this was the size of my chopped cherries:
**The amount you get from this recipe fills an 8oz / 1 cup jar.
Keywords: Cherry Jam Recipe (Maple Sweetened and Made without Pectin)
Robin Davis says
Could I thaw out some frozen pitted organic dark red cherries for this recipe?
Hi Robin, yes for sure. See the section above the recipe regarding using frozen cherries here instead.
Can't wait until it is cherry season here in Australia to make this jam, I can see it drizzled over some plain yoghurt. I have read that if you save lemon seeds, keep them in the freezer until you are making jam then tie them up in some muslin, throw them in the pot they will add more pectin to the jam.
That's an interesting tip, Carol. Thanks for sharing!