Cherry Butter

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Prepared this way, the jars have a shelf life of 18 months to 2 years, and require no special attention. A side benefit is that your house will smell wonderful while it is cooking - much better than potpourri!  You can also skip the last canning steps, and just store it in your refrigerator (2 or 3 months) or freezer (indefinitely).




  • 4 or 5 quarts of pitted Cherries, fresh or frozen (See step 1 for more details)
    You can also use cherry juice (fresh, frozen or bottled)
  • 2 tablespoons of ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon of allspice
  • 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract
  • 4 cups your choice of sweetener: sugar, Stevia (or if you prefer, Splenda), honey or frozen concentrated grape juice. (like it or not, sugar yields the best results)




  • Jar grabber (to pick up the hot jars)
  • Lid lifter (has a magnet to pick the lids out of the boiling water where you sanitize them. ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • Jar funnel ($2 at Target, other big box stores, and often grocery stores; and available online - see this page)
  • 1 Crock pot (slow cooker) 5 to 6 quart size (if your crockpot is smaller, just reduce the ingredients proportionately)
  • Large spoons and ladles
  • 1 Canner (a huge pot to sanitize the jars of cherry butter after filling (about $30 to $35 at mall kitchen stores, sometimes at big box stores and grocery stores.))
  • Ball jars (Grocery stores, like Publix, Kroger, Safeway carry them, as do some big box stores - about $8 per dozen quart jars including the lids and rings)Cherry pitter: without one of these, it's pretty hard to remove the pits from a fresh cherry.

How much fruit?

You will need about 6 quarts of finely chopped, pitted cherries (which is about 18 pounds or 12 quart boxes of fresh whole cherries).

Clean and pit your cherries, add the cherries to the crockpot along with spices, sugar and vanilla.  Cook on low for 12 hours stir and see if the mixture has reduced to 2/3.  Use immersion blender and make smooth.  To thick? Add apple juice. To thin?  cook longer.

Step 11 - Fill and seal the jars

If the crockpot isn't keeping the cherry butter boiling hot, you will need to briefly return the butter to the stove to get it hotter.  It varies from crockpot to crockpot.  I find that if I set my crockpot on high for the 15 minutes before I fill the jars and stir frequently, it gets it boiling.

Fill the jars to within ¼-inch of the top, wipe any spilled cherry butter of the top, seat the lid and tighten the ring around them. 

Step 12 – Process the jars

Process means put them in the canner and keep them covered with at least 1 inch of water and boiling. if you are at sea level (up to 1,000 ft) boil pint jars for 15 minutes and quart jars for 20 min. If you are at an altitude of 1,000 feet or more, see the chart below. There isn't a USDA or Ball recipe for cherry butter, but their directions for cherry jam and cherry preserves are almost identical; this is just cooked down more and doesn't require pectin, so the processing times borrowed from those recipes should be plenty safe;.

Recommended process time for Cherry Butter in a boiling-water canner.

Jar Size 

Process Time at Altitudes of


0 - 1,000 ft

1,001 - 6,000 ft

Above 6,000 ft

Half-pints or Pints

15 min







Step 13 - Done

Lift the jars out of the water and let them cool without touching or bumping them in a draft-free place (usually takes overnight)  You can then remove the rings if you like, but if you leave them on, at least loosen them quite a bit, so they don't rust in place due to trapped moisture. Once the jars are cool, you can check that they are sealed verifying that the lid has been sucked down. Just press in the center, gently, with your finger. If it pops up and down (often making a popping sound), it is not sealed. If you put the jar in the refrigerator right away, you can still use it. Some people replace the lid and reprocess the jar, then that's a bit iffy. If you heat the contents back up, re-jar them (with a new lid) and the full time in the canner, it's usually ok.