Sweet & Sour Cherry Bourbon Preserves

Last year we ended up with a lot more fruit than we originally planned to process (by many, many pounds.) We were a little hesitant about big batches of preserves, as we were still working through the epic amount of mediocre strawberry jam we made in 2009, our first year of canning. To use up all this unplanned bounty, we ended up making jams & preserves in small batches. The experiment worked out well, we have been enjoying many of the things we made last year (lamenting we didn’t make more in some cases.) As a result, we have decided to make more small batch preserves out of our fruit this year.

This week, to start the canning season, we came into a large haul of sweet & sour cherries through a Not Far From the Tree pick. The problem is, we don’t regularly make cherry based preserves. Usually we purchase 5L pails of sour cherries and freeze them for pies and tarts. We have also canned whole sour cherries. Given the quantity available, we wanted to come up with several ways to use them.

In times of canning uncertainty we first check for a recipe from Marisa at Food in Jars that comes close to what we want and build from there. We settled on her Sour Cherry Jam that looked great and was simple enough we could modify it to suit what we wanted 🙂 These modifications included the last minute exclusion of pectin and inclusion of Bourbon.

The results were a delicious preserve. We liked it so much we went out and got more cherries from a local grower this week and made another batch!

Most of this recipe (directions and all) are from Food in Jars – we only tweaked minor things.


600g Sour cherries, pitted and mashed
600g Sweet cherries, pitted and mashed
325g white sugar
1/4 cup Bourbon, anything will do, we used Woodford Reserve.


  1. Put three half-pint jars or six quarter-pints (or some combination thereof) in your canning pot and bring to a boil.
  2. Combine fruit and sugar in a heavy, non-reactive pot. Bring to a boil and let bubble for a good twenty minutes (our second batch was ~25minutes.) You want to cook it until it looks like boiling sugar – thick and viscous. Add the bourbon and boil for another five minutes.
  3. Kill the heat, fill your jars (leaving 1/2″ head space), wipe rims, apply the lids and rings and process in the hot water bath for 10 minutes. Remove jars from water and let cool on the countertop. When the jars are cool (I typically wait until overnight), remove the rings and test the seal by picking the jar up by the lid. If it stays put, your jars are good to store indefinitely.

For the curious, was also made: