Ahhh, summertime! Nothing beats the feel of luscious ripe cherries in your hand and the smell of a freshly baked cherry pie or cobbler. If you look down at your just-picked basket of cherries with a sense of dread though, fearing that there’s no way you can eat them all before they go bad, don’t worry—I’m here to show you how easy it is to preserve those sweet little treats for later so that you can enjoy them long after summer has gone. Today I’ll be teaching you all my favorite tips and tricks for canning cherries so that you can still savor their flavor come winter time. Let’s get started!
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Step By Step Directions for Canning Cherries
- water bath canner
- canning jars
- canning seals and rings
- jar lifter and canning funnel
- large pot or blancher
- large spoons
- sharp knife
- towels and dish cloths
- cherry pitter – optional
- Sugar (for syrup)
Homemade Syrup for Packing
Make syrup of your choice to pour over cherries. If you are doing sour cherries, you may want a medium or heavy syrup.
- extra light – 1 cup sugar to 4 1/2 cups water
- light – 2 cups sugar to 4 cups water
- medium – 3 cups sugar to 4 cups water
- heavy – 4 cups sugar to 4 cups water
You can also make a syrup with honey if you don’t want to use processed sugar.
- light – 1 1/2 cups honey to 4 cups water
- medium – 2 cups honey to 4 cups water
To make the syrup you’ll simply combine water and your sweetener in a pot on the stove. Heat and until boiling or until the sugar is dissolved. Stir well. Keep this hot as it will need to be very hot when it goes into the jars.
Pit Your Cherries
Don’t worry—it’s simpler than you think. To pit cherries for canning, you’ll need a few key items: a cherry pitter (or sometimes known as an olive pitter), some parchment paper, and of course—fresh cherries. You’ll also want to wear an apron or have nearby a towel in case things get messy.
To begin, place your parchment paper down on the counter and arrange your pitted cherries one by one before putting them into jars for canning. Gently press down on the pit with the cherry pitter until you feel a bit of resistance.
Then turn 90-degrees and push again until the fruit gives way and the pit comes out. Before you know it, it’s easy peasy!
Our favorite cherry pitter Leifheit Cherry Stoner with Pit Catcher Container
Canning Cherries – Raw Pack
Place cherries in a jar leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. You do not have to heat the cherries as long as they are not cold from the refrigerator. Room temperature is fine.
Cover cherries in jar with hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and clean the rim of jar. It might be sticky and that stickyness might interfere with the seal of the lid.
Place your lids on the jar and add the screw bands just finger tight. Place the jars in the canner. Then process according to water bath canning procedures.
Process pints or quarts for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude (see below).
Canning Cherries – Hot Pack
Place cherries and syrup in pot. (Use 1/2 cup syrup to 1 quart of fruit.) Heat this mixture to a low boil.
Fill the jars with cherries and liquid, leaving 1/2″ headspace and removing air bubbles.
Wipe the rim clean so any stickiness doesn’t interfere with the seal. Then place on lid and ring. Place the jar in the warm canner and proceed to fill all jars. Then process according to water bath canning procedures.
Process pints for 15 minutes or quarts for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude using the chart below.
Processing Times for Water Bath Canner (Raw Pack)
Altitude – Pints and Quarts are Processed the Same
0-1,000 ft – 25 minutes
1,001-3,000 ft – 30 minutes
3,001-6,000 ft – 35 minutes
Above 6,000 ft – 40 minutes
Processing Times for Water Bath Canner (Hot Pack)
Altitude – Pints – Quarts
0-1,000 ft – 15 minutes – 20 minutes
1,001-3,000 ft – 20 minutes – 25 minutes
3,001-6,000 ft – 20 minutes – 30 minutes
Above 6,000 ft – 25 minutes – 35 minutes
Adapted from: The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Last Updated: 3/31/2021
Tips and Tricks for Canning Cherries
How Do You Can Sour Cherries? How Do You Can Sweet Cherries?
These directions are for either sweet cherries like bing cherries (this is what you see in the pictures) OR sour cherries that you use for pies.
Can You Can Cherries Without Sugar?
I prefer extra light syrup, but you could use just water if you don’t want to add any sweetness.
Pressure Canning Cherries
Cherries are a high-acid food, so they’re safe for water bath canning. No pressure canner required!
What About Canning Cherries with Pits?
Actually, canning cherries with the pits is perfectly acceptable, but I don’t really recommend it. It makes them quicker and easier to use if you go ahead and pit them now. If you want to can them with the pits, just prick each cherry with a sterilized needle to prevent it from bursting.
If you want to can your cherries for future use, water bath canning is the way to go. It’s pretty simple: just pit and pack your cherries into jars, add a sugar syrup, boil everything together, then process in a hot water bath. After that, you’ll have canned cherries that will last for up to a year. Give it a try next time you have an abundance of fresh cherries!
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