Raise your hand if you have never tried canning before.  It’s okay.  Just a couple of years ago, I was right there with you.  I always imagined it to be too time consuming, involved, or just plain hard.  Finally curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a shot.  As with so many things in the kitchen, it seems the real hurdle was just getting over the mental anxiety about trying something new.   But that first lovely jam opened up the world of canning and home preserving for me, and I am continuing to practice and develop my canning skills all the time.  Anyone who is interested in making more from scratch and buying less processed foods should definitely give canning a try.  Though it may seem intimidating, it’s truly not that complicated.  Just follow the steps, as you would with any recipe.  Trust me, if I can do it, you can do it.

Recently I was contacted by Ball about National Can-it-Foward Day, which happens to be tomorrow.  The concept behind this event is to allow home cooks to connect via a national circuit of canning parties and social media activities. New and experienced canners can participate in a live webcast of canning demos where viewer questions will be answered in real-time.  This year, chef and Food Network star Ted Allen will be live on site demoing his favorite canning recipes for viewers.  Tune in tomorrow (Saturday, August 17 at 10 am-2 pm EDT) if you are interested!  Not only that, but Ball is also providing a fun giveaway for my readers with some great canning supplies to get you started.  Visit the giveaway page to find out more and to enter!

Honestly, I had the hardest time deciding what to make in celebration of this home preserving day.  I already have a list a mile long of all the different canning recipes I would like to try.  Eventually I decided upon a simple cherry jam because of my obsession with cherries, and also my recent realization that I have done far too little with them this summer.  I found several recipes that looked promising but then nearly fell over when I saw the amount of sugar called for.  Thankfully a lot of researching (and texting with Tara) helped me work out a game plan for a cherry jam that wasn’t more sugar than fruit.  As much as I would have loved to make a tart cherry jam (swoon), I can almost never find tart cherries around here.  I ended up adding lemon juice to this recipe to add some tartness.  If you can find tart cherries, just use those and omit the lemon juice.

I hope you all decide to do some canning or preserving this weekend whether you are a newbie or well experienced.  As it happens, I was already planning on starting my tomato canning tomorrow in preparation for the winter months ahead, so this really is perfect timing.  Yay canning!

Disclaimer:  Ball invited me to promote National Can-it-Forward Day on my blog, and I happily agreed since I am a big fan of their products and also love that they have roots in nearby Muncie, IN.  I did not receive materials or compensation for writing this post (but Ball is providing the prizes for the giveaway.)  All opinions expressed are my own.

  • Yield about 6-7 half-pint jars


4 lbs. fresh cherries, pitted and halved
1½ cups sugar, divided
7 tbsp. low-sugar powdered pectin
3 tbsp. lemon juice


  • 01

    Rinse and drain the cherries.  Pick through the fruit and remove any pieces that are bruised or moldy.

  • 02

    Remove the stems.  Pit and halve or quarter the cherries.  (Wear an apron or clothes you don’t adore – trust me.  Also consider gloves of some kind unless you don’t mind looking like you have a skin disease and/or committed a crime.)

  • 03

    In a large stockpot or Dutch oven, combine the cherries with ½ cup of the sugar over medium-high heat.  Heat, stirring occasionally, until the cherries release their juices and are somewhat softened, about 8-10 minutes.  Reduce the heat if needed to avoid burning or overcooking.

  • 04

    While the cherry mixture is cooking, get your jars ready.  Heat the jars in a pot of hot water (about 180˚ F) until ready to be filled.  This will prevent the jars from breaking when added to the canner.  At this point you should also have a boiling water canner nearly ready to go, with the water heating to 180˚ F.

  • 05

    Stir in the remaining 1 cup sugar and the pectin.  Let boil 2 minutes.  Remove from the heat.  Use a skimmer or spoon to remove the foam from the surface of the jam.  Stir in the lemon juice.

  • 06

    Fill the warmed jars with the jam, leaving ½-inch of head space at the top of each jar.  Run a flat spatula around the edges of the jar a few times to help remove air bubbles.  Wipe the edges of the jars with a clean dry cloth.  Place lids and rings on each jar, closing the rings just until you encounter resistance AKA”fingertip tight” (not too tight).

  • 07

    At this point, the jars can be loaded into the canner with the water at 180˚ F.  Lower the cans into the water so that it covers the lids by about 2 inches.  Bring the water to a rolling boil, cover and process for 15 minutes.  Processing times may vary slightly depending on your elevation, so be sure to check the specifics depending on where you live.

  • 08

    Once the jars have been processed as directed, remove with a jar gripper.  Let cool.  Set aside and let sit 24 hours.  Press the center of the lid to be sure it cannot be intended.  This indicates a proper seal.  Store in a cool, dark place.