This cherry jam recipe is lower in sugar than most homemade jams and is even partially sweetened with honey!

It’s flavored with vanilla bean paste, lemon and a touch of black pepper, so you know there’s no shortage of flavor in this homemade cherry jam! 

Overhead photograph of homemade cherry jam on a plate with crackers and cheeseWhat is freezer jam? 

This cherry jam recipe is a freezer jam. What does that mean? Broadly speaking, it’s stored in the freezer because the fruit isn’t cooked (like it is in most jams) and it doesn’t go through the canning process. 

So what’s the benefit of making freezer jam instead of regular jam? 

  • It requires less cooking and time 
  • Less sugar is needed 
  • Has a fresher flavor 
  • Doesn’t have to go through canning process 

Now, you might be wondering why I’m touting freezer jam to be a no-cook jam and yet here I am having you roast cherries. Blasphemy! Hear me out, the reason I call for roasting the cherries is because I want that deep, dimensional flavor. 

However, if you don’t want to roast the cherries, no problem, skip that step. But if you do, I recommend decreasing the water from ½ cup to ⅓ cup. 

How do you make freezer jam?

The best part of homemade freezer jam is that it’s so stinking easy to make! Here are the basic steps: 

  1. Pulse fresh fruit (and any flavorings like zest, herbs or spices) in a food processor until nearly smooth.
  2. Combine sugar and pectin in a saucepan, stir in water and cook 1 minute. 
  3. Whisk pectin-sugar mixture and honey (or corn syrup) into fruit mixture until combined. 
  4. Divide between four 8-ounce jars and seal. 
  5. Let jam sit at room temperature until set. 
  6. Chill or freeze! 

photo of cherries in a food processor with lemon zest, salt and pepper

How do you pit cherries?

If you don’t have a cherry pitter (which is very understandable) I like to use the old glass bottle method. Set the cherry, stem side up, on the opening of the glass bottle and using a straw (metal straws work best), pierce the flesh and press the pit through and into the bottle. 

Homemade cherry jam in a glass jar on a table with other jam jarsWhat is pectin and do I really need to use it in this cherry jam recipe?

Pectin is a naturally-occurring carbohydrate found in the skin, core and seeds of fruit. Pectin enables fruit purées and juices to thicken and form a gel.  

Because freezer jams aren’t cooked long and slow like most jam recipes, the pectin in the fruit doesn’t have a chance to thicken and form a gel. So, by adding some powdered pectin to this cherry jam recipe we can avoid the cooking process and retain the fresh cherry flavor all while still creating a thick jam. It’s like magic! But also very natural magic. 

Since I wanted to keep the added sugar in this cherry jam recipe to a minimum, I opted for Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes. You can find it in most stores next to the cans and canning products, but check the baking aisle as well if you can’t find it. 

photograph of homemade cherry jam on a plate with crackers and cheeseHow to serve this cherry jam:

I like to use this homemade cherry jam not just as a jam, but also a cherry sauce! Here are some ways to use this delicious jam. 

  • Spoon over baked brie and serve with crackers 
  • Serve on a cheese board
  • On a PB&J sandwich! 
  • Spoon over cheesecake as a cherry sauce 
  • Spoon over vanilla bean ice cream as a cherry sauce 
  • Serve as a sauce with roast pork tenderloin
  • Spoon into thick slices of brioche bread and make stuffed french toast
  • Spread onto a crepe and top with chocolate shavings 

Homemade cherry jam spread onto a piece of buttered toastWant more cherry recipes? I’ve got a whole heap for ya!

photograph of homemade cherry jam on a plate with crackers and cheese

Make sure to tag me @ZESTFULKITCHEN ON INSTAGRAM or comment below if you make this Cherry Jam recipe!

To pin this recipe and save it for later, you can click the button on any of the photos, or the red button on the side bar or below the recipe. Happy cooking!

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photograph of homemade cherry jam on a plate with crackers and cheese

Roasted Cherry Vanilla Bean Jam

  • Author: Lauren
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes + 24 hours setting time
  • Yield: four (8-ounce) jars 1x
  • Category: Condiment
  • Method: Roasting
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale
  • pound fresh sweet cherries (such as bing), pitted and halved (about 4 cups
  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste, divided 
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemon zest 
  • ½ teaspoon salt 
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ cup honey 
  • 1 cup sugar 
  • ½ package Sure Jell Premium Fruit Pectin For Less or No Sugar Needed Recipes (about 25 grams or 2 Tbsp. + 2½ tsp.)
  • ½ cup water

Instructions

Heat oven to 450°F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 

Toss cherries with 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste, then arrange in a single layer on prepared sheet. Roast cherries 15 minutes; let cool slightly. 

Transfer cherries, and any juices, to the bowl of a food processor with zest, salt and pepper; pulse until nearly smooth. Transfer cherry mixture to a large bowl with honey and remaining teaspoon vanilla bean paste; stir to combine. 

Whisk together sugar and pectin in a saucepan. Stir in water and bring to a boil over medium-high heat; boil 1 minute, stirring constantly.

Stir pectin mixture into cherry mixture until well combined

Divide jam among four 8-ounce jars, leaving ¼–½ inch of room at the top. Seal jars and leave jam at room temperature overnight, or until set, but no longer than 24 hours.

Refrigerate jam up to 3 weeks or freeze for up to 1 year. Thaw jam in refrigerator before using.


Notes

Make it vegan: use corn syrup in place of the honey.


Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 tablespoon
  • Calories: 23
  • Sugar: 5g
  • Sodium: 20mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 6g
  • Fiber: 0g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: Cherry Jam, Freezer Jam, Cherry Freezer Jam

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About The Author

Lauren Grant is a professional culinary food scientist, food writer, recipe developer, and food photographer. Lauren is a previous magazine editor and test kitchen developer and has had work published in major national publications including Diabetic Living Magazine, Midwest Living Magazine, Cuisine at Home Magazine, EatingWell.com, AmericasTestKitchen.com, and more.

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