How To Can Fresh Cherries – Beginner Instructions ~ Detailed instructions designed for the beginner explaining how to can fresh cherries so they can be stored in the pantry and enjoyed throughout the year.
I just returned from a trip visiting family in the Okanagan area. In case you are not familiar with this area it is located in southern British Columbia, Canada. It is a gorgeous area filled with fresh water lakes, vineyards and orchards. It is no wonder that it is a popular tourist destination.
When my daughters were young we were fortunate to spend our summers here staying with Grandpa and Grandma. They lived on a property with the lake in the front and the large vegetable garden and fruit trees in the back. We enjoyed eating the fresh fruit picked off the tree. Grandma and I also worked as a team and canned each fruit so we could enjoy it throughout the year. Grandma grew up in this area and learned to can fruit from her mother. I don’t know exactly how many jars of fruit she preserved I would have to guess it was in the thousands.
I was fortunate to learn how to can from Grandma. If you have access to fresh fruit and want to enjoy it throughout the year it is so worth the effort. It is a real treat to go to the pantry and open up a jar of cherries when the snow is falling outside and the temperatures are freezing. Cherries are one of the first fruits to be available in the summer. I like canning cherries because they are lot easier than canning peaches since there is no chopping. If you are new to canning this is a great fruit to start off with!
There are several methods for canning. The method I use is pretty simple and not too complicated. I have really broken down the instructions for you step-by-step to make it really easy to follow and that is why I titled it …
How To Can Fresh Cherries – Beginner Instructions
Buy Or Pick The Cherries
There are several different types of cherries that come in different colours, sizes and degrees of sweetness. I just went to my favourite fruit stand and saw that they had a great sale on the Bing variety. Bing cherries are large and dark red. They are a common variety, not too sweet and quite tasty for canning and jamming. They looked pretty good so I ended up getting forty pounds for $40.00.
Note: I like to get my cherries the day before I plan to can them and store them in the fridge until the next day. If left out, it is amazing how quickly fruit can ripen when the weather is really hot.
Prepare The Canning Jars
It is really important to work with sterile jars when home canning. I estimate how many jars I will need and add one or two more just in case. Then these go into the dishwasher the night before and I run them through a full cycle with the sanitizing feature turned on.
Assemble Ingredients And Canning Utensils
This is another step I like to do the day before just to make sure I have everything needed. I have been caught off guard thinking I had enough sugar or snap lids and could not complete the job.
Ingredients For Canning Fresh Cherries: fresh cherries, sugar
Utensils For Canning Fresh Cherries: pint or quart size mason jars, Bernardin Snap canning lids (enough for each filled jar), Mason jar bands (enough for each filled jar), ¼ measuring cup, small-size sauce pan, 1 to 2 medium-size sauce pans, canner, oven mitts, tea towel, paper towel
Note: For this canning session I used pint-size mason jars but the quart size works just as well. About 24 cherries fit into a pint size jar.
DAY OF CANNING…
Sort The Fresh Cherries
It is important to go through all of the cherries to take the stems off and check each one out to make sure it is not spoiled. I look for the following signs of spoilage:
~splitting caused by heavy rainfall
~bug(s) have burrowed into the fruit
~birds have pecked at the fruit
~under ripe and too firm
~overripe and too soft
~bruising or blemished from careless picking and handling
~mold from being too old or poor storage
Note: There are different brand of snap lids available. I have always used and have been happy with the Bernardin brand. Canning fruit is a financial and time investment so I have just stayed with a product that has always worked for me to ensure success. This is not a sponsored post.
Tip: You will notice that very few cherries are perfect. Many will have some sort of blemish. Small blemishes on a cherry will cook out during the canning process so they were included in the good pile. Discard cherries with a deep or larger blemish.
Note: I was happy to say that with this batch of cherries very few were spoiled and needed to be discarded.
Bring Canner Water to A Boil
Fill the canner with water about two thirds full and bring it to a boil. If it reaches a full boil and you have not filled the jars yet, turn the burner to its lowest heat and keep the boiled water hot.
Bring Medium-Size Saucepans With Water To A Boil
Fill the saucepans with water and bring it to a boil. When the water boils turn the burner off. You will be using this water to fill the jars after they have been filled with cherries.
Bring Small-Size Saucepan With Water To A Boil
Fill the small-size saucepan about ¼ full and bring to a boil. When the water boils turn the burner off. You will be using this water a little later to prepare your Bernardin Snap Lids.
Wash The Fresh Cherries
Rinse the cherries in the sink filled with cold water. I leave the cherries in the water while I am filling the mason jars.
Tip: Before rinsing the cherries in the sink make sure it is sparkling clean and sterile. I spray full strength vinegar all over the sink and give it a good wipe with a clean dishcloth before adding water.
Fill The Mason Jars With Fresh Cherries
This step is actually a 5-step process. You don’t want to just toss the cherries into the jar because you will end up with floating fruit after they have been canned.
Step 1 – Make one layer of cherries so they rest and cover the bottom.
Step 2 – Fill the jar with one or two cherries at a time making sure to fill in empty spots as much as possible till it is 2/3 full.
Step 4 – Sprinkle 1/8 to ¼ cup sugar over top of the cherries.
Step 5 – Fill the rest of the jar with cherries using the same method described in step 2 till it is almost full. I stop where the part for screwing on the rim begins.
Note: Adding sugar is essential to canning cherries. If you do not add the right amount of sugar they will be discoloured and may taste quite sour.
Tip: When adding the sugar to the jar try to make sure none of it ends up on the top rim of the jar.
Prepare The Bernardin Snap Lids
Bring the water in the small-size saucepan back to a boil. Turn the burner off. Place enough Snap Lids in the water for each filled jar. Place the saucepan lid on top. Set your timer for five minutes. After the timer goes off drain the hot water from the snap lids.
Bring Canner Water Back To A Boil
This is about the time to bring the canner water back to a boil in preparation for when the filled jars of cherries are ready to be added.
Fill The Filled Jars With Boiling Water
Bring the water in the medium-size saucepans back to a boil. Fill each jar with the boiling water up to ¼ inch from the top of the jar.
Tip: Do this in the sink because there will be hot water spilled.
Tip: First fill each jar about 1/ 2 full and let that water filter down. Then add the rest of the water to fill each jar.
Make Sure Jar Rims Are Clear
This is a really important step. If there is any debris like sugar on the rim the snap lid will not seal to the jar. To make sure the rim is clear I place my pointer finger under cold water running from the tap and run it around the rim of each filled jar. Then I run a piece of paper town around each rim to make sure no debris shows up on the paper towel. Then I run my pointer finger under cold water from the tap again and make sure for a second time the rim is totally clear.
Place Bernardin Snap Lids And Bands On Each Jar
Remove the prepared snap lids from the small saucepan. Place a snap lid on each jar and with your pointer finger firmly holding the snap lid in place screw the band on so it is gently secure. Do not tighten the band.
Process Filled Jars In The Canner
Add the filled jars, covered with the snap lids and secured with the rims to the canner. Do this by evenly placing them in the rack of the canner. Place the canner lid on top and ensure there is a steady boil. It does not have to be a strong bubbling boil. Set the timer for 20 minutes.
Tip: If you find you have not added enough water to cover the jars bring some water to a boil in one of the medium-size saucepans and add that quickly during the canning process. The jars do not have to be completely covered with water for the sealing process to occur but they should be mostly covered. The heat and steam inside the canner with boiling water should be enough to ensure the snap lids seal to the Mason jars.
Remove Jars From Canner
After 20 minutes remove the jars from the canner and place on a cooling rack.
Tip: After you raise the wire rack filled with jars and rest it on the sides of the canner you will notice there is still some very hot water resting on top of the jars. To avoid possible hot water burns I use a tea towel to wipe off this hot water before removing them from the rack.
DAY AFTER CANNING…
Allow Canned Jars To Cool
Allow canned jars to cool for a good 24 hours. Leave enough space between each jar for the air to flow through.
Tip: You will know the jars are sealed by three different ways:
~the lid will look a bit concave (ever so slightly curving downward)
~you will hear a popping sound coming from each jar
~when you tap each jar with your finger or the blunt of a knife you will hear a lower ‘thunking’ sound (if the jar is not sealed it will make a higher ‘tinging’ sound)
That is it! Repeat the same process if you have more fruit to can. After the jars have cooled label the date they were processed on the top lid with the month and date.
Note: I don’t bother making a special label for the side of the jar so it does not cover how pretty the canned cherries look and it is pretty obvious what is inside of the jar without a label.
Don’t be intimidated by the length of the instructions. I intentionally made them very detailed and wrote them as How To Can Cherries – Beginner Instructions. It took a few canning sessions before I was totally comfortable with the whole process.
I also recommend trying to do it with a partner for a couple of reasons. It saves a lot of time sharing the workload but more importantly it is a really fun activity to with a family member or a best friend. Grandma and I had many great conversations throughout the years when we canned hundreds of jars of fruit together.
Have you canned cherries before? If so, what are your canning tips? If you are knew to canning and have a question that I have not answered you are welcome to post it in the comments and I will do my best to answer it. We all learn from each other!
I love canning and making preserves. Here are a couple of my favourites I invite you to check out too!