wooden bowl full of cherries on a table in the streaming sunlight

Chocolate Cherry Preserves

3.5 from 2 votes
Excerpted from Preserving with Pomona’s Pectin by Allison Carroll Duffy (Fair Winds Press, June 2013)
Allison says, “Chocolate and cherries were made for each other, and this preserve is proof. The combination of the two is insanely decadent. Be sure to use high-quality cocoa powder that is unsweetened and has no other added ingredients. Spoon this preserve on top of cheesecake for a stunning—and absolutely heavenly—dessert.”
Servings 5 cups


  • pounds sweet cherries
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder sifted
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup lemon juice bottled
  • 3 teaspoons calcium water see step #1
  • cups sugar
  • teaspoons Pomona’s Pectin mixed with sweetener


  • Before you begin, prepare calcium water.
    To do this, combine ½ teaspoon calcium powder (in the small packet in your box of Pomona’s pectin) with ½ cup water in a small, clear jar with a lid. Shake well.
    Extra calcium water should be stored in the refrigerator for future use.
  • Wash your jars, lids, and bands. Place jars in canner, fill canner 2/3 full with water, bring canner to a rolling boil, and boil jars for 10 minutes to sterilize them. (Add 1 extra minute of sterilizing time for every 1000 feet above sea level.) Reduce heat and allow jars to remain in hot canner water until ready to use. Place lids in water in a small sauce pan, heat to a low simmer, and hold until ready to use.
  • Rinse cherries, remove stems, and then slice in half and remove pits.
  • Combine cherry halves with cocoa powder and the 1/2 cup of water in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat, reduce heat, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat.
  • Measure 4 cups of the cooked mixture (saving any extra for another use), and return the measured quantity to the saucepan. Add cinnamon, cayenne pepper, lemon juice, and calcium water. Mix well.
  • In a separate bowl, combine sugar and pectin powder. Mix thoroughly and set aside.
  • Bring cherry mixture back to a full boil over high heat. Slowly add pectin-sugar mixture, stirring constantly. Continue to stir vigorously for 1 to 2 minutes to dissolve pectin while the preserves come back up to a boil. Once the mixture returns to a full boil, remove the pan from the heat.
  • Can Your Preserves: Remove jars from canner and ladle preserves into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch of headspace. Remove trapped air bubbles, wipe rims with a damp cloth, put on lids and screw bands, and tighten to fingertip tight. Lower filled jars into canner, ensuring jars are not touching each other and are covered with at least 1 to 2 inches of water. Place lid on canner, return to a rolling boil, and process for 10 minutes. (Add 1 extra minute of processing time for every 1000 feet above sea level). Turn off heat and allow canner to sit untouched for 5 minutes, then remove jars and allow to cool undisturbed for 12 to 24 hours. Confirm that jars have sealed, then store properly.

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21 Responses

  1. Nina
    | Reply

    I have frozen pitted cherries but I don’t know how much to put in.
    Do you think 3 cups?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Allow those frozen cherries to come to room temperature and then mash. We would guess around 5-6 cups.

  2. Bill Galbreath
    | Reply

    I just made this and everyone swooned! I mentioned swapping for strawberries and they said, “what would you use it on?”
    “Cheesecake, of course!”
    Seriously, you make it easy for use to amaze our friends and family, thanks Pomona!!

  3. Reesa
    | Reply

    I wanted to be Wowed by this jam, but for me it was just okay. There was a considerable amount of time prepping the cheeries for not a super result. Every other recipe I have tried has been wonderful! Rhubarb Cranberry is one of our favorites.

  4. Katie
    | Reply

    I made this last summer and it was amazing! My only regret is not making more of it. I can’t wait to go cherry picking and make it again.

  5. Louise
    | Reply

    Someone asked about subbing raspberries for the cherries (and that was my question) and you said yes, but would all the other ingredients say as well? Like the cinnamon and the cayenne pepper? Would you switch something out for something else instead? You’d still use 2 1/2 lbs of raspberries?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Hello Louise,

      Yes, raspberries are a direct replacement for the cherries. All other ingredients would stay the same.

      Happy jamming!

    • Nina
      | Reply

      Since cherry season passed can I use frozen unsweetened cherries !

      • Shelby Collings
        | Reply

        Absolutely! Simply allow to come to room temperature before mashing.

  6. Patricia
    | Reply

    Can frozen sweet cherries be used?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Yes, you can use frozen fruit for the cooked recipes. It’s best to use unsweetened frozen fruit. Defrost, but don’t drain, frozen fruit before using. Generally you use the liquid from the frozen fruit along with the fruit unless you notice that there is an excessive amount of liquid, in which case you would ladle off some of the excess liquid before measuring your mashed fruit. If you are going to juice the fruit for jelly, then you would use all of the liquid.

  7. Myra Phillips
    | Reply

    Could you substitute raspberries for the cherries? Thanks

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      You sure can! Happy jamming 😊

  8. Linda Hodgell
    | Reply

    If I use sour cherries, how much extra sugar could I add?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      We would recommend following the recipe as written and then adding additional sweetener as needed, just before canning.

  9. Cayla Millet
    | Reply

    Can I use Maple Syrup instead of sugar?? Id so, how much??

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      You sure can! It measures like honey, so half the measurement of sugar.

  10. Marcie
    | Reply

    Can this recipe be made with monk fruit (or other alt sugar substitute) instead of sugar.

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Hello Marcie,

      You sure can!

  11. Shannon
    | Reply

    I made this recipe and realized,, after the fact, the cocoa powder was processed with alkali. Is the product still safe?

    • Shelby Collings
      | Reply

      Hello Shannon,

      Your preserves should be just fine!

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