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Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Can Cherries

{For some reason, my camera is taking blurry photos and I'm not sure why.  Considering what it's been through, I'm not surprised.  Frustrated, but not surprised.}

There are three things that remind me of eating at my grandma's table:  kechla (a german dough treat, kind of like a donut but done in a knot, pronounced "KEY-cla"), her famous bars (known in our family as "Skip Bars" because they are my brother's most favorite), and canned cherries.  It was always a treat to have her call me to the kitchen and then be sent to the basement to fetch a jar of canned cherries.  She would put a little dish of cherries by each plate as our dessert.

It's cherry season and that means we can cherries.  LOTS of cherries.  I bought an 11 pound box to can.  And then my MIL went back to the store and called to ask if I wanted another box.  Sure!  Why not?

So I had 22 pounds of cherries to can!  Here's how I did it:

Rinse the cherries under cold water.  Remove all stems and any fruit that is damaged or soft.  Because cherries are so dark in color it is often difficult to see blemishes so I rely more on feel than sight.

Then get out your cherry pitter.  What?  You don't have a cherry pitter?  This little invention was first brought to my attention by my beloved MIL, she's a saint!  For more reasons than just telling me about devices that save my sanity...

Back in the day, my grandma didn't pit her cherries.  And you have to eat them carefully and then spit the pit out.  Not the best way to go with small kids in the house, so a cherry pitter is very helpful.

And one that can do four cherries at a time is even better!  

Place your cherries on the plate.

Close it with your hand.

Open it up to see the pits pushed through the plate.

The cherries are stuck on the stainless steel bars with very sharp points.  You just pull them off and repeat.  18,000 times.  But it's mindless work and I did lots of thinking while I was working.

When all of your cherries are pitted you can start putting them in the jars.  I canned up quarts as I have 5 cherry eaters.  I prefer to do a raw pack so my cherries are cooler or room temperature.

(At about this time, I got my water bath canner water boiling and ready to go while I was filling jars.)

Fourteen quarts of cherries ready for the canner!

Make a simple syrup with sugar and water, check your canning book for amounts.

When the syrup is boiling, ladle it carefully into the jars.

Make sure you wipe the rim of the jar so that no syrup or cherry juice is on the rim.  We don't want a failed seal just because we wanted to skip a step.  Remember, there are no shortcuts in canning!!

When water in your canner is boiling, it's time to add the jars.  You want to wait until the water returns to a full rolling boil before you start timing.  My canning book listed the time for quarts as 25 minutes.

On my second batch, I heard a muffled "pop".  My heart sank, I knew what had happened.  A jar had cracked in the canner.  But then I smiled!  This happens to me every year, but just once and usually with my pressure canner.  One jar will crack and leak.  I can tell you exactly what food it was each year:  last year - chicken broth, the year before - carrots, before that - vegetable soup, and before that - beets.

Why did this happen?  Even though I always inspect my jars before adding the food, these kind of cracks usually cannot be seen and it's the change in temperature and/or pressure that blows the crack around the jar.  I shouldn't be surprised that this happened, Kiddo3 had been moving the jars from one box to another after her nap.

So, did I clean everything up and start over?  Nope, I just kept on canning with the juice and cherries floating in the water.  (I did remove the jar, however.)  The remaining jars were sticky from the syrup, but a quick rinse with warm water and they were fine.

So, for a couple of hours of effort, my family will be eating succulent, delicious cherries during the cold winter months!  

Remember, I eat local because I can.


  1. ..."because I can"...lol
    Cherries are not grown locally on any scale because of bird issues, so we get ours from the interior of the province (same place we get peaches from). We just consume them fresh actually, partly because the cost doesn't make it worthwhile canning them, partly because both my hubby and I have not great memories of canned cherries from our childhood. I have a cherry pitter - but it does one cherry at a time, I can't imagine how long that would take!
    Your jars look wonderful...and one broken jar isn't so bad, though things must have been sticky!

  2. I CAN cherries also. And just did a little over a week ago and I broke my first jar also! Canned cherries are my favorite.

  3. I also grew up eating canned cherries - my mom didn't pit hers either. We also would have them for dessert! :) Anna


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