So....with more than five pounds of cherries left from syrup making, I realized I was gonna have to get these dudes processable so that, come winter time, I'd be to able use them in a variety of ways. Creating pie filling for freezing was an option, as well as just throwing the cherries whole into the freezer, but I wanted to be able to keep them versatile for whatever strikes my tastebuds' fancy 'round January.
So, why not just can them, straight up, and then deciding later how to make them shine. Here's how to do it.
**A Note on Canning Safety: Please do not take these instructions as a complete guide to canning. They are intended to help can fresh cherries using safe, standard canning procedures. Check out this article, as well as the home site for Ball canning supplies, for ideas.
Step One. The first step to processing fresh cherries is to clean, stem, and pit your harvest. It's technically possible to do this whole process by hand, but a cherry pitter or stoner will speed this up significantly. These things also work well for olives, and it's a worthwhile investment at around $10.00.
So, rinse the cherries well in a colander, and pull off the stems by hand. Then pass the cherries through the pitter. Here's a bit of the carnage:
Step Two. The cherries need to be preserved in a liquid. Common options include plain water, simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water), or fruit juice. I chose white grape juice. It takes about a half a cup of liquid and one and half cups of cherries per pint jar. Boil the cherries in the liquid for five minutes.
Step Three. Clean the jars, lids, and rings as recommended by the USDA, and then fill the jars to a 1/2 inch of the top. Tap to release any air bubbles, and then place a lid and canning ring on each jar.
Step Four. If using a standard boling water canner with the hot pack method, place the jars in the water for 15-20 minutes (those with high altitudes understand their special circumstances).
Step Five. Once the cans have processed, pull them out to cool. Verify they've been sealed by pressing on the lid and making sure they don't pop up and down.
Then, store 'em up and use them as you desire. Simply openning a can and pouring it over vanilla ice cream is wonderful, or thicking it with cornstarch and adding some cognac for a flambee of cherries jubilee will make all your effort worthwhile.