Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sour Cherry Preserves, a Guide to canning

Several years ago my mother-in-law taught me how to can jelly, jams, and preserves. She got me everything I'd need to get started and I've tweaked my equipment a little since. The very basic equipment needed to can are...a large stock pot, tongs, ladle, and funnel. You can buy canning sets which include the funnel, a jar lifter, magnetic lid lifter, and bubble remover. I've added a couple dish towels; they come in handy for holding the hot jars while filling, and wiping clean the tops before sealing.

To get started you need something to can. I have about 2 cups pitted sour cherries from our wild sour cherry tree. Since the wild cherries are much smaller, they're harder to pit. So I put them in a pot, with a little water, and warmed them up. Then I dumped them in cheese cloth over a heat proof bowl and let the juices drain. If i wanted cherry jelly I'd stop here- discarding the pulp and only using the clear juice. However I wanted Cherry Preserves, so I mushed the pulp all up, which popped out the seeds. Then I removed the seeds and returned the pulp to the juice. I am sure their are easier ways, but this worked for me. Next transfer all to a large pot, I added a little water to make 2 cups liquid. 
Also, it's time to get your jars ready. Choose the size jars you want, this batch I'm using 4 oz jars. Clean jars with warm soapy water, rinse well. Place clean jars in your stock pot. Some people like to use the canning insert, but I choose not to. So I put in extra jars to fill in space. Also, put in the lids, but not the bands. Fill the pot with enough water to cover the jars by about 1-2". Warm the water, but do not boil. 
While the jars are being prepared, let's get our preserves ready! Warm the cherry juice and pulp, gradually adding the pectin. (This batch I used 3 Tbs powder pectin, it set pretty firm, next time I will try only 2 Tbs pectin.) Stirring to dissolve. Bring to rolling boil - one that you can't stir down. Add sugar, all at once. (This batch requires 2 1/2 cups.) Stirring constantly, bring to rolling boil. Boil hard about 1 minute. Remove from heat, skim off any foam (it makes the final product prettier). This recipe calls for almond extract, so I added 1/2 tsp and stirred to distribute. 
Grab a dishcloth and tongs, remove a jar from the hot water. Place funnel in jar, ladle in enough preserves to fill jar, leaving about a 1/4" headspace. 
Remove funnel, using your nifty bubble remover tool, place in the jar and swipe around the edges to remove any air bubbles. Take another cloth, wipe the rim of your jar to ensure it's clean and dry for a good seal. 
Using your magnetic lid tool, get yourself a lid from the hot water. 
Screw a band on and using tongs, place the jar back in the hot water. 
Continue the process until all preserves are gone. Process jars in boiling water for 10-15 minutes. 
Remove each jar. Let them sit undisturbed for 24 hours. Check the seals by pressing down on the center. If it doesn't pop, you're good to go. If it didn't seal, you can refrigerate and use within 3 weeks, or reprocess with a new lid. 
It's fun to experiment with new flavors and try new things! Have fun this summer canning season!
What are you canning? 
-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler


  1. I haven't canned anything yet this year, but hopefully soon! I would love for you to share this at what i am eating

  2. Yum. I just had Black Raspberry that I made last summer. But I just freeze instead of can.

  3. Looks yummy!!
    We have an old cherry tree that produces really small cherries too.
    We planted some new ones, we got one cherry from them this year :)

    1. Aww! Maybe you'll double your production and get two next year! hehe :)

  4. Oooh yummy! I still haven't canned anything yet, but I really want to try some jam or jelly. I have a lot of jars that my grandma passed down to me so I want to put them to good use!

    1. I'm sure once you try it you won't be able to stop! I'm addicted!

  5. That sounds grand. I so love making wines and jellies. I'm a berry fiend.