Sour Cherry and Currant Jam


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Makes about

    4 cups

    (4 half-pint jars)

Appears in

The Baking Bible

By Rose Levy Beranbaum

Published 2014

  • About

Cherries are unusually low in pectin, the naturally occurring substance that thickens fruit into a jamlike consistency. Because of this, it is necessary to add extra pectin, and extra sugar as well, for cherry jam to set. I tried for more than twenty years to make a cherry jam without adding the tons of sugar required by the added pectin. Because currants are so high in natural pectin, which does not require extra sugar, and because they blend so well with the cherries in my “Churrant” Pie, I decided to employ them for this jam, and the results were everything I had hoped for. The tart sour cherries are the star here. The currants mainly provide the consistency, enhancing without interfering with the cherry flavor.

This garnet jam (white chocolate bread. It also makes a deliciously sweet-tart sauce for duck or pork, especially if you add a little chicken stock and cream. Frozen currants and cherries work perfectly. Thaw them completely before proceeding.


pitted sour cherries 4 cups 23 ounces 652 grams
sugar 2⅔ cups 18.8 ounces 532 grams
fresh red currants, rinsed, drained, and stemmed 4 cups 21.6 ounces 612 grams
water ½ cup (118 ml) 4.2 ounces 118 grams

Special Equipment

A jelly bag and stand or large strainer lined with several layers of cheesecloth, dipped in water and wrung well, set over a bowl | Four half-pint canning jars (see Notes) | A canning pot or large pot with a rack (see Notes)


Make the Jam

In a large nonreactive saucepan, preferably nonstick, combine the cherries and sugar.

In a small nonreactive saucepan, place the well-drained currants and the water. With a potato masher or fork, crush the currants slightly. Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes.

Spoon the currant mixture into the jelly bag and let it drip through. Squeeze the bag or cloth. You should have at least cup/158 ml of juice. If you have less, chances are the liquid evaporated during simmering, so add enough water to make up the difference.

Prepare the Jars

Sterilize the canning jars by filling them with boiling water. Also pour boiling water over the inside of the lids. Set the rack in the bottom of the canning pot and bring enough water to a boil to cover the jars by 1 inch.

Add the currant juice to the cherry mixture and bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil rapidly, stirring often, until it reaches the gelling point, about 8 minutes. Watch carefully, adjusting the heat, because the mixture tends to bubble up and over. (An instant-read thermometer should read 225°F/107°C.)

To test the thickness of the mixture without a thermometer, remove the pan from the heat and dip a large clean metal spoon into it. Let the liquid fall back into the pan. The last 2 drops should merge and sheet off the spoon. (Or place a tablespoon of the liquid on a chilled plate and freeze it for 2 minutes, or until cold. It should wrinkle when pushed gently with a fingertip.)

Can the Jam

Pour the hot jam into the sterilized jars, leaving inch headspace. Do not scrape the pan or it may cause lumping. Screw on the caps and place the jars on the rack in the water bath. Cover, return the water to a boil, and then boil the jars for 10 minutes. Remove the jars and let them cool on a folded towel before checking the seal. (When you press on the center of the lid, it will feel totally firm and unyielding.)

The juices will be very liquid until cool. During cooling, the cherries will float to the top. They can be distributed evenly by inverting the jars every 30 minutes until barely warm—about 2½ hours. At this point the liquid will suddenly gel. It will continue to thicken during the next 2 days of storage and should not be moved during this time.

If, after that time, it has not thickened sufficiently, it can be emptied into a pan and cooked for a few minutes more to the proper gelling point.


In a dark area: cool room temperature, at least 2 years.