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.
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.
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.
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.
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.