The first time I had canned cherries, I wasn’t a fan! Their soft texture didn’t resemble the fresh or frozen fruit in any way. However, over time they grew on me and after I discovered the best way to can sweet cherries, I thoroughly fell in love!
The secret to delicious, home canned cherries is to preserve them in cherry juice! I have an old stainless steel steam juicer from the 70’s that I employ whenever cherry season comes around. After steaming several loads of cherries, I then proceed to can whole fruits in the lightly sweetened juice.
THE BEST WAY TO CAN SWEET CHERRIES
For this recipe you’ll need:
- approx 3-4 gallons of cherries for steaming
- 18-20 lbs of whole cherries for packing 7 quart jars
- 1/2-3/4 C honey (or as desired)
Directions: in cold water, rinse your steaming cherries. Stems can be left alone. Fill the steam juicer’s basket and process cherries, collecting the juice. Once complete, run a second batch through.
To make 7 quarts (7 litres) of canned sweet cherries, you’ll need 3 quarts of cherry juice! If needed, you can add a little extra water.
While the liquid is still warm, add honey or sugar and sweeten it to taste. If you are not ready to can cherries, juices can be refrigerated for up to 10 days.
When ready to carry on, you must prepare your canning jars by washing them well! Once this is complete, it’s time to rinse the 18 lbs of whole cherries.
This time, be sure to remove the stems! Pits can be left intact.
Once prepared, your whole cherries should be packed into quart jars. While you don’t want to squish the fruit, ensure they fit tightly! As they soften in the canner they will compress a bit. No one wants to feel as if they’ve wasted space!
Set the filled jars on the rack over your canner to warm them up. Then, bring cherry juice to boil and allow it to simmer for 5 minutes. Slowly pour hot juice into the cherry-filled quart jars and seal with hot lids. Process according to your altitude!
HOW TO USE CANNED SWEET CHERRIES
Because of their pits, we prefer to eat these fruits straight from the jar! In the winter, you’ll find that a bowlful after dinner is a delicious treat, a reminder of past summer days.
Canned cherries also make a great topping for ice cream or yogurt. Just remember to inform your guests that there are still pits in them!