Tart Cherry Jam with Chai Spices

This tart cherry jam is quick and easy to make! It uses chia seeds to make a natural jam, and is scented with chai spices.

Tart cherry jam

This tart cherry jam recipe is sponsored by the Cherry Marketing Institute. All opinions are our own.

Anyone have trouble sleeping at night? I’ve been blessed with a supernatural ability to sleep through anything (including my alarm clock), but I know many who aren’t so lucky. Both Alex and I do, however, struggle with being well-rested due to our night-owl tendencies. When we’re well rested we’re less stressed, more pleasant, and more creative than when we’re sleep deprived. So lately we’ve been trying to cut back on the late night Netflix binging in favor of some actual pillow time. We recently learned that Montmorency tart cherries contain melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates our sleep cycle. In honor of being well rested, we created a tart cherry jam that works as a naturally sweet bedtime snack!

Toast with jam and nutella

How to make tart cherry jam

This tart cherry jam (also known as sour cherry jam) recipe is a little different than standard jam: it’s chia jam! Chia jam is incredibly simple and utilizes the natural gel quality of chia seeds. This makes it an all-natural version of jam, and it’s even easier to make. Instead of using a gelatin like standard jam, the chia seeds naturally thicken fruit into a jam-like texture. You’ll need frozen tart cherries for a tart cherry jam, which can be hard to find. Check your local groceries and if they don’t have them, try looking online. We use this method in our Easy Strawberry Jam, Rhubarb Jam, and Cranberry Jam as well.

We selected a chai flavor for this tart cherry jam, which goes with the fruit perfectly. The chai spices gently add a cozy flavor to the cherries, which are sweetened with just the right amount of maple syrup. Slather it on a thick piece of toast and it’s a naturally sweet treat that also promotes good sleep.

Here are the basic steps for how to make tart cherry jam (see the recipe below for full quantities):

  • Add frozen tart cherries, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, and chai spices to a skillet.
  • Simmer about 10 minutes until the cherries begin to break down.
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the chia seeds. Allow to stand and wait for the jam to naturally thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a sealable jar and refrigerate: the jam will thicken more as it cools.
Montmorency tart cherries

What are Montmorency tart cherries?

This tart cherry jam is made with Montmorency tart cherries. If you’re like us, you might be wondering what are Montmorency cherries? Are they a brand? A type? Here are some facts about these tasty fruits:

  • What are Montmorency tart cherries? Montmorency tart cherries are a variety of cherries known for their distinctive sour-sweet flavor and unique nutrient profile.
  • How are they different from sweet fresh cherries? Montmorency tart cherries are available year-round in dried, juice and frozen forms. Tart cherries are rarely found in their fresh form because they are delicate and need to be preserved.
  • Where are tart cherries grown? Over 90% of tart cherries consumed in the US are grown in the US! Traverse City, Michigan is considered the “cherry capital of the world” since about 75% of the Montmorency tart cherry crop is grown in Michigan. Alex and I go to Michigan every summer and absolutely love supporting this beautiful part of the country.

More with tart cherries: Farro Salad with Feta & Cherries

Knife spreading tart cherry jam

How to serve it?

Of course, you probably don’t need ideas on how to serve jam! But here are some of our favorite baked goods and nut butters to serve alongside:

This tart cherry jam recipe is…

Vegetarian, vegan, plant-based, gluten-free, naturally sweet, and refined sugar free.

Breakfast spread
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Tart Cherry Jam with Chai Spices


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  • Author: a Couple Cooks
  • Prep Time: 0 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cup 1x

Description

This tart cherry jam is quick and easy to make! It uses chia seeds to make a natural jam, and is scented with chai spices.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 10 ounces frozen Montmorency tart cherries (2 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds

Instructions

  1. In a small skillet, add the tart cherries, lemon juice, maple syrup, vanilla, spices, and 1 tablespoon water.
  2. Simmer about 10 minutes over medium heat until cherries begin to break down, stirring occasionally and using the back of a spoon to break them apart.
  3. Once the cherries are broken down, add 2 tablespoons chia seeds and stir until combined. Turn off heat and wait for the jam to thicken, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a canning jar and refrigerate; the texture will set even further when chilled. Keeps refrigerated for 2 weeks.

  • Category: Essentials
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Tart cherry jam, Jam, Chia Jam, Cherries, Tart Cherries, Cherry jam

Looking for vegan breakfast ideas?

This tart cherry jam is perfect for breakfast, slathered on a piece of toast with some almond butter! Here are a few other vegan breakfast ideas on A Couple Cooks:

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

6 Comments

  • Reply
    Karlie
    November 30, 2016 at 7:04 am

    This looks delicious I love the use of so many spices!

  • Reply
    Bethany @ Athletic Avocado
    November 30, 2016 at 8:14 am

    WOW what an incredible flavor combo you got going on in this delicious looking jam! Cherries _ chai spices sounds amazing!

  • Reply
    Abby @ Heart of a Baker
    November 30, 2016 at 9:43 am

    I have to confess, I still haven’t made chia jam (I know!), so I need to start with this cherry one!

  • Reply
    Emily
    November 30, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Had no idea that tart cherries can help sleep- So happy to have learned something new today! I’ve got a frozen bag of tart cherries in my freezer right now. I bought them for a recipe and now I’ve completely forgotten what recipe I was intending to make. Maybe I’ll try your jam. :) I’ve made your baked pumpkin steel cut oats two times now- it’s so good! Totally different from regular baked oatmeal!

  • Reply
    Katie @ Whole Nourishment
    December 2, 2016 at 1:23 pm

    Ooh great idea to pair chai spices with cherry! This jam would be a small but really special addition to a holiday breakfast. And I love the looks of whatever spread (chocolate hazelnut maybe?) you smeared along with the jam. ;-)

  • Reply
    Christine | thyme and toast
    December 2, 2016 at 1:44 pm

    The combo of cherries and chai spices sounds amazing! I’m a huge fan of chia jams lately… it’s been my way to enjoy berries out of season since I use frozen too, but I never thought to try cherries! Can’t wait to give this one a go!

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