Friday, July 15, 2011

Canning Rainier Cherries

This is my first year canning cherries. I've always wondered what I would do with sweet cherries or if we would even like them canned. I had a 1/2 box that I picked up from a local mennonite store that I thought we would eat fresh, but my canning curiosity got the best of me so in the jars they went....well, that is after I took all the pits out. No cherry pitter here, so if we do like them canned a cherry-pitter will be necessary....It took forever to get those pits out!

Here's my pot of cherries after getting the pits out.  I hear you can raw pack these but they are in a light syrup here and cooking just long enough to get somewhat soft.

Ladeling them into the jars....

Looking pretty good still......

And here is the final product.  In TWO of my jars I added one small drop of almond extract with a medicine dropper.  Always experimenting!  See the jar on the left?  I had 2 pints of cherry syrup left over.  Yep, canned that too.  I'll find something to use it for!
Of course I had to search online for ways to use these cherries since eating them straight out of the jar almost seems like a waste.  I need something fancy or delicious.  So here are the two things our family came up with to try this year with our cherries.

1.  Cherry Vanilla Ice Cream Soda
2.  Homemade Cherry Ice Cream

And now for the "how-to":

  • 6 cups sweet cherries (Rainier, Bing, or other sweet variety)
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 1/2 cup – 2 cups sugar
  • vanilla beans, almond extract (optional)
1. Wash and pit your cherries. You can use a cherry pitter or simply cut the cherries in half to remove the pit. Do this over a large bowl to capture any juices.
2. Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep hot (but not boiling) while you prep your jars.
3. Ensure your jars are clean, sterilized, and hot. (Adding hot syrup to a cold jar may cause the jar to shatter!)  Ladle cherries with syrup into jars.
4. If you want to add vanilla to your cherries, cut  1 inch pieces of whole vanilla bean.  Add to the desired jars.  Alternatively, you could add a drop or two of almond extract to the cherries.  (I added the almond extract to 2 of my jars.)
5. Fill each jar with the hot syrup, stopping 1/4 inch from the rim of the jar. With a clean, hot, wet cloth, wipe the rims of the jars and place the sealers and lids on top. Tighten with your hands.
6. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
7. Remove from the water bath, let cool, and listen for the pops.  Let set for a few weeks to let the flavor seep into them before eating.  If you have any that did not seal properly, put in refrigerator for eating immediately.

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