Canning cherries

Friday morning my Mom, 2 sisters, 2 nieces, my Uncle, and I decided to go cherry picking for pie cherries. In just a short order we had picked a little over 130 pounds of cherries. My Uncle decided that he wanted his 40 pounds of cherries dried in his home made dryer. My Mom, my sister Jessica, and I wanted our cherries canned.

Before we started pitting the cherries, the dishwasher was loaded up with canning jars to get them sanitized.

My Mom started washing the cherries and sorting through them, removing bad ones, stems, and debris.

We opted out of having the cherries pitted for us, since the machine at Deterings Orchard only removes about 50% of the pits. My Uncle has two hand operated pitters that do one cherry at a time. These were set up and cherry pitting commenced.

While my Uncle and I were endlessly pitting, my mom washed the rings and lids for the canning jars in soapy water.

My mom had a trick for making sure the lids wouldn’t glue to each other–she faced the lids together.

The jar lids were put in a pot, covered with water, brought to a boil, and then turned down to low heat. They sat there until we needed them.

The water bath canner was put on to the stove and brought up to a boil. I believe that my mom filled the canner up to the first line from the bottom of the canner.

As the water bath canner was heating up, a sugar water mix was made. We heated water until the sugar was dissolved. My mom used a very light sugar mixture: 1 cup of sugar to 1 quart of water. The sugar water solution helps the cherries stay firmer during canning with better flavor and color.

We put 1/4 cup of the sugar water mix into the bottom of the jar and then added the cherries. We thumped the bottom of the jar a couple of times to settle the cherries and then topped it off about 1/2 inch from the top.

After the jars were filled with cherries, we filled them up with the sugar water syrup to 1/2 inch from the top.

The rims of the filled jars were wiped clean. This is necessary so the lids will seal after they have been canned. Then we placed a sanitized lid on each jar and screwed the ring down tightly.

Mom loaded the canner rack and set it down into the water. She added water as necessary so it covered the jars. With the lid on, we waited until it came to a rolling boil with steam spitting out and set the timer for 25 minutes.

TADA! Our first batch of canned cherries. Now we just repeat, repeat, …

So what did I think about my first “grown up” experience in canning? It was long but exciting. Normally it would go a little faster, but processing over 130 pounds of cherries just isn’t going to be speedy. With all the helping hands we were able to do this all in a day. I would have maybe left some of the cherries until the next day. My Mom said that they start deteriorating very fast so you need to do it all in one day. We did save the juice from the cherries to make into jelly and refrigerated that. My Mom stayed up until 1:45 AM finishing up the canning. The rest of us left as there was nothing more to do.

Not counting my Uncle’s 40 pounds of cherries, my Mom, my sister, and I ended up with 14 jars of cherries each. There were originally 43 1/2 quarts, but a quart jar and a pint jar broke in the canner. My mom said that usually happens if there is a flaw in the glass, and as some of her jars were older than her it is bound to happen. Though two being broken in one canning session was the first for her. The broken jar in the canner made for a later night, as all the water had to be dumped out and then new water had to be heated back up.

Finally I will leave you with a picture of one of the bowls of pits. Yeah, I was just a little bit tired of that job by the end.

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6 Responses to Canning cherries

  1. Lynn says:

    Yummm! Those cherries look amazing!
    If you lived near us my husband would have asked for some pits to plant them- he’s always planting something!

  2. charity says:

    Yummy, I tried to convince mom that we need to make a cherry pie but she said that we couldn’t open one of the new cans yet! Hmph. We should have made a pie with some fresh ones!

  3. lee says:

    That sounds like my reaction when Robin froze all the blueberries we picked. Hey, I wanted to eat some of those! Actually, a pie would be great … but we don’t have an oven (that works).

  4. Pingback: Cherry jam and syrup » Farm Folly

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  6. Kat says:

    Hi Robin,

    Just wanted to let you know that we are launching a post this week highlighting the best canning recipes we could find, and we are featuring your Cherries recipe with a link to the post: http://farmfolly.com/2009/07/canning-cherries/

    Thanks for sharing your recipe – keep up the good work! ­čÖé

    -Kat

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