Until recently, I hadn’t thought to can cherries. One of my co-workers cans cherries and they sounded pretty tasty. So, this year, I decided to take a look through the preserving recipes books and came across a recipe for Black Forest Macaroon Conserve and another, simpler, recipe for cherries in a light syrup. And then the hunt for cherries was on!
I headed to the farmers market and bought 5 1/2 quarts of cherries (which ended up being around 8-9 pounds).
I washed the cherries and debated pitting versus not pitting. The Black Forest Macaroon Conserve recipe requires pitting, but cherries in syrup could go either way; it just depends on how you plan to use them. If you plan to use your cherries as garnish or in cocktails, you could leave the pits in. Prick the cherries to prevent them from popping. Ultimately, I decided that I’d be more likely to serve them over cake or ice cream as part of a dessert, and so I pitted the whole lot. I also, oddly, found a cherry (and olive) pitter in my kitchen utensil drawer, which made the decision easier.
Pitting cherries, however, is messy. I won’t lie to you: my dining room looked like a crime scene. I covered the table with newspaper, put on my apron, and still everything was splattered in cherry juice by the end of the afternoon.
Once pitted, I put the hot water canner on to boil, starting sterilizing jars, and mixed up the Black Forest Macaroon Conserve. I only got 5 jars, instead of the approximately 7-8 jars that the recipe called for, but perhaps I didn’t pack the cherries into the measuring cup enough. But, let me tell you, this stuff is delicious! It’s REALLY sweet, but so good. I was planning to give it as gifts, but I’m now rethinking that. 🙂
Then, I moved on to canning cherries in syrup. Because I was using sweet cherries, I made a light syrup. If you had sour cherries, you may want a heavier syrup.
You can raw pack or hot pack cherries. For raw packing, you put the raw fruit into the sterilized jar and then add the hot syrup before processing. For hot packing, you boil the fruit with the syrup and then pour them together into the sterilized jars. For some fruits, only hot packing is recommended (as it helps remove the air), but everything I’ve read about cherries seems to suggest that they can be processed either way.
Here’s the recipe I used to can the cherries: Cherries in Syrup.
Yours in food,
PS When I bought the cherries last weekend, the folks at Noggins said they’d have cherries for another couple of weeks. So, there’s still time to can cherries of your own.
PPS If you’re a fan of dehydrating, check out Katrina’s blog post from last year for tips on dehydrating cherries.