Can Jam: Black Cherry, Rhubarb & Red Wine Preserves

You might think I’m stuck in a can-jammin’ rut: last month, strawberry, rhubarb & Amaretto sauce.  This month, swap sweet black cherries for the strawberries, red wine for the Amaretto, and Bob’s your uncle, it’s practically the same recipe.  Except it’s oh so not.

When I think of preserves, this recipe is exactly what comes to mind: chunks of fruit, just barely broken down by a quick-as-you-can boil, suspended in a thick, syrupy glaze that is not stiff enough to be called a jam, yet too chunky and rich to be considered a sauce.  In texture as well as flavor profile, this delectable concoction is completely different from the strawberry, rhubarb dessert sauce: about they only thing that they do have in common is that they are both excellent over ice cream (and they were both Can Jam entries, of course). This chunky preserve has whole pieces of black cherry and rhubarb, just broken down enough to be soft but whole enough to be recognizable as fruit. The wine (in honor of my current host country, I used a lively organic South African shiraz) adds a subtle berry flavor to the profile and amps up the cherry flavor; you don’t taste wine, but you would know if it wasn’t there.  Rhubarb adds its own tanginess that is a lovely foil to the sweetness of the black cherries. This one’s a keeper, and if there are still cherries in the trees when I get home from South Africa, I will definitely be making another batch.

In other news, hearty congratulations to the US men’s soccer team for an amazing win over Algeria last night, winning their group and advancing to the Round of 16. GO USA!

For more great cherry & berry jammin’ recipes, check out the June round-up over at Tigress in a Jam.

Liberally adapted from Black Cherry & Pinot Noir in Mes Confitures by Christine Ferber


Black Cherry, Rhubarb & Red Wine Preserves


  • 2 lbs pitted black cherries (about 2 and 1/2 lbs with pits; fresh or frozen cherries will work)
  • 1 lb rhubarb, trimmed and sliced to 1/4-inch pieces (fresh or frozen)
  • zest & juice of 1 lemon
  • pinch of sea salt
  • 1 and 1/3 cups turbinado sugar
  • 1 cup (8 oz) frozen apple juice concentrate, apple jelly or apple pectin stock (or reduce 4 cups of apple juice to 1 cup)
  • 1 cup (8 and 1/4 oz) fruity red wine (I used an organic South African shiraz, Live a Little Really Ravishing Red)


  1. Day 1.  Combine cherries, rhubarb, lemon juice & zest, salt and sugar in a large, heat-safe bowl. Stir to mix well, then cover lightly and allow to macerate, refrigerated, overnight.
  2. Day 2.  Transfer the fruit & juices to a medium stockpot or preserving pan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat, transfer back to heat-safe bowl, cover lightly and refrigerate overnight.
  3. Day 3.  Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  4. Strain juice from macerated fruit.  Add juice and apple concentrate (or pectin or jelly) to a medium stockpot and heat over high heat until boiling; boil until juice has thickened slightly and is approaching 220 degrees F (I added wine at 218 degrees), about 10 minutes. Add wine; bring back to a lively boil.  Continue to boil over high heat, stirring, until juice is syrupy and begins to spit when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pan (218 degrees F), about 10 minutes. Add fruit bring back to a boil. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes, until cherries have softened but not broken down and preserve spits angrily when you scrape a spoon across the bottom of the pot (about 218 degrees F).
  5. Fill hot, sterlized jars to 1/4-inch headspace. Wipe rims, afix lids and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.

Yields approximately 4 and 1/2 cups.


  1. I wanted a preserve that was thick and syrupy yet still pourable (over cake, ice cream, pork tenderloin, you name it) rather than a set jam. The texture turned out perfectly; but if you would like more of a traditional jam set, simply keep cooking the syrup until it reaches the gel stage (220 degrees F); add the fruit as late as possible and cook to the gel point.  It may be difficult, with this low amount of sugar, to achieve a firm jam set and maintain whole pieces of fruit; if that is your plan, you might consider adding commercial pectin or additional apple concentrate/jelly, etc.


Canned, store in a cool, dark spot for up to 1 year.  Refrigerated, use within 1 month.


Rhubarb is in season from late Spring into early Summer, while cherries appear at the very beginning of summer.


  1. I’d never have thought of cherry-rhubarb as a combo. I like the idea! And with cherry season going strong, plus the extra pureed rhubarb I have, it seems ideal to try. I can’t drink wine though – any ideas for variations? I don’t like a very sweet preserve… how did you find this recipe came out?

  2. Nice work. I don’t think I would’ve noticed the similarity of the two jams if you didn’t point it out for me! That totally looks like what I want in a preserve. Hope you are having a blast-

  3. Anduin

    This inspired me to make a similar version with strawberries and rhubarb. I used some red wine that I’ve been trying to turn into vinegar and a bit (not enough) of fresh ground pepper. The result is out of this world amazing, especially with a bit of gorgonzola cheese. My best jam ever. Thanks for the inspiration!

  4. this looks amazing! i’ve been having a preservation realization lately; between julia’s mulberry, rhubarb & lemon and shae’s cherries & lemons, and my recent strawberry forays which i haven’t roared about yet – i’m thinking it’s all about the preserves!

  5. Does frozen apple juice concentrate work as well as the green apple jelly Mdme Ferber calls for? I’m going to try it. Thanks for the idea. Plus, lovely saliva inducing pictures —

  6. I haven’t tried the green apple jelly that Ferber recommends; I imagine that what she is looking for is the pectin so you could play with amounts and use any apple pectin source.

    As I said, I really liked the texture of this one: not quite a jam, but too thick to be sauce. You could up the amount of apple juice concentrate if you’d like a firmer set.

  7. Lynne

    I tried the Cherry/Rhubarb/Red Wine Jam…after having a similar confiture at a classy restaurant here in the Okanagan valley. Mine (yours) was better! It was super! I served it as the restaurant did…with a variety of cheeses, smoked/cured meats/sausage, chicken pate, grapes, bread sticks, crackers. It jelled perfectly…only problem…I wanted more! The flavours really stood out, due to the smaller amount of sugar than the usual jams and jellies.

  8. Lynne – so glad it turned out well for you! I’m always so excited to hear that someone has actually made one of my recipes – even more excited to learn that you enjoyed it.

  9. Months after you posted this, here I am stumbling across it as I do a random Internet search for “Red Cherry Rhubarb,” meaning the bare root variety that I want to order for my garden this spring. Google can be so strange! And I’m so glad because this preserve must happen in my own kitchen in May. (Hopefully my rhubarb plant will be sitting pretty in its soil by then, though still a long, long way from being a source for this recipe.) Anyway, I’m printing this out right now.

  10. What we do when we make wine jellies or jams is to reduce the wine on very low heat (stack burners if necessary) and simmer until there is no more alcohol wafting, thus you have not scorched the wine and now have little to no alcohol in the final product. You add the reduced wine to the jelly/jam before proceeding with pectin and sugar so that the wine is only boiled for a couple of minutes. The way you have your recipe printed many types of red wine will scorch and impart some off setting flavors.

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