Bourbon Cherry Preserves

by autumn on July 13, 2011

My cherry pitter is quaint. Right up until I made this batch of preserves, I had convinced myself that “quaint” was a desirable quality in a cherry pitter.

That’s it. In case you don’t know (and, looking at that piece of equipment, how would you?) here’s what a cherry pitter is supposed to look like. At about cherry number four, this little instrument started reminding me a bit too much of a certain medical instrument whose name I’ll spare you. I gave up.

I didn’t completely give up, I just started pitting them with my hands by gently pulling them into halves and knocking out the pit. This took less time than using my “pitter” and ended up being the perfect thing for these preserves since my sweet cherries were a little on the large side.

I adapted this recipe from Christine Ferber’s Mes Confitures and Mrs. Wheelbarrow. If you’ve ever peeked at Mes Contifures you’ll know that while it contains gorgeous recipes and really smart methods, it does not follow USDA approved processing guidelines. For this missing piece, I consulted Mrs. Wheelbarrow who had also adapted a Ferber recipe for water-bath canning.

I love that each time I can, I feel like I learn something new. Something I’m still learning to have the patience for is *cough* skimming foam *cough*. Perhaps you noticed. Still, I’m really proud of these preserves!

Bourbon Cherry Preserves


  • 2 2/3 lbs sweet cherries
  • 3 3/4 cup sugar (I used organic)
  • 2 T lemon juice
  • 1 oz bourbon

Cooking Directions

  1. Pit the cherries with your hands by halving them and removing the pit.
  2. Stir them with the sugar and lemon juice in your preferred preserving pot and allow it to sit at room temperature for about an hour.
  3. After an hour, place the pot over med heat, stirring frequently until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar dissolves you may want to stir it less and increase the heat slightly. Bring it only to a simmer.
  4. Remove from heat, let cool to room temperature, and refrigerate overnight.
  5. The next day, place 5 spoons on a small saucer in the freezer.
  6. Strain the cherries from the juice and return the juice to the pot.
  7. Reserve the cherries in a bowl and boil only the juice for 5 minutes.
  8. After 5 minutes add the cherries to the juice, return to a boil, and boil for 5 minutes.
  9. Remove the jam from the heat and check the set of the preserves using the spoon test*. (Mine needed about 2 minutes past the initial 5) If the set is too loose, boil for another 2 minutes, remove from the heat, and repeat the test.
  10. When you are happy with the set, add the bourbon and let the jam cool for 5 minutes while stirring intermittently.
  11. I processed this in a water bath canner for 10 minutes, but as this was not the official recommendation of the original recipe (ie: this is not a tested recipe), this can be frozen or stored in the fridge if you prefer.

*spoon test info here

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kate July 14, 2011 at 12:24 am

Looks delicious! I added a bit of vanilla to my sweet cherry whiskey preserves – it made for a really nice balance.


2 Emily | Nomnivorous July 14, 2011 at 2:50 pm

These look amazing! Is the bourbon an obvious flavor?

Also, I like Kate’s vanilla idea. MMm, cherries, bourbon and vanilla.


3 autumn July 30, 2011 at 8:41 pm

Thanks Emily! The bourbon isn’t a note… you can definitely taste it, but I think (hope!) it’s not overpowering.


4 Carol, Simply...Gluten-free July 30, 2011 at 5:44 pm

OMG! This looks amazing. Would be so delish on some vanilla ice cream 🙂


5 autumn August 4, 2011 at 11:51 am

Hi carol! And thanks 🙂 I think you’re exactly right about the vanilla ice cream too.


6 yossy | apt2bbakingco August 2, 2011 at 1:14 am

I usually pit cherries by hand too, the pitter I bought last year is a cute little POS. Bourbon makes everything better!


7 autumn August 4, 2011 at 11:50 am

Ha! Thanks, Yossy. “Cute little POS” describes my pitter perfectly! I couldn’t have said it better myself 🙂


8 Hilary August 7, 2012 at 2:47 am

Oh my goodness! I made this last night and it is so so so good! I added half a vanilla bean while the fruit was mascerating…absolutely divine. Thanks for the recipe!


9 Erica August 20, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I know this is an older post, but plan on making it tomorrow! Very excited! How many jars did you get from your recipe?


10 autumn August 21, 2012 at 11:36 am

Hey Erica, Shoot! Totally an oversight on my part to have not included that in the original recipe. Sorry about that. Based on the amount of fruit, my guess would be about 4 half pints.


11 Lindsay May 27, 2014 at 6:44 pm

This was just what I was looking for! I have some vanilla beans soaking in bourbon, so I can already foresee good things happening.

Thanks so much!


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