A couple of weeks ago, one of our local farm markets was selling Lapin cherries (sweet cherries) for $19.80 for a 20 pound case.
That's a big deal! Only a couple of weeks before that, cherries had been selling for $5.00/pound! It was a work night when I came upon them but I bought a case anyway. (I probably would have bought more but common sense, in the form of my husband's voice in my ear, prevailed.)
We enjoy canned cherries but, even more than cherries canned in syrup, we find that we enjoy sweet cherry pie filling. Not that we actually use it much for pies - we rarely make a cherry pie - but it makes an excellent cherry crisp, or cherry muffins, or a filling for cake during the dark winter months when fresh cherries are but a fond memory.
Since common sense had prevailed and I wouldn't be likely to find a case of cherries at the price again, I decided to forgo canning them in syrup and made the whole 20 pounds into pie filling. I canned it in pints and now have 20 jars lined up in my pantry, just waiting for wintertime baking.
Here's my recipe. Please note that while I am an enthusiastic home canner, I'm not an authority on the subject. If you're canning cherry pie filling (or anything else), purchase a reputable canning guide book. (Putting Food By and the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving are both very good.) Review their instructions on safe canning practices, then follow them to the letter. Canning is no place for approximation or improvisation. Food safety is a science and safe practice is, quite literally, a matter of life and death.
To can Sweet Cherry Pie Filling, you'll need:
- Sweet cherries (Lapins or Bings both work very well), washed, cut in half, and pitted
and, for every 8 cups of prepared cherries:
- 1 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup quick cooking tapioca
- 3/4 teaspoon almond extract
Combine the cherries, sugar, and tapioca in a large pot and stir them gently so that the sugar is distributed throughout the fruit. (My pot holds 24 cups of prepared fruit - about half of my 20 pound case) so I mixed in 3 cups of sugar and 3/4 cup tapioca.)
Cook the cherry mixture over medium low heat until it boils and thickens, stirring occasionally so that the mixture heats through evenly and doesn't stick to the bottom of the pan. Stir gently! You don't want to break up the cherries any more than you have to.
While the cherries are heating through, prepare your canning jars. Wash them either in your dishwasher or in hot soapy water, then put them in a large pot. Add enough water to cover them by at least 2 inches and bring them to a boil. Reduce the heat to hold the water at a simmer until you're ready to use the jars.
Prepare sealer lids for your jars according to the manufacturer's directions.
Fill your canner with water and bring it to a boil.
When the cherries mixture has boiled and thickened, remove it from the heat and stir in the almond extract. Ladle it into your jars, leaving about an inch of head room.
Put the lids on the jars and screw on the sealer rings to finger tight.
Process your jars of pie filling in a boiling water bath, 25 minutes for pints or 35 minutes for quarts.
Remove the jars from the canner and allow them to cool to room temperature.
Test the seals. Store any unsealed jars in the fridge and use them up within a few days.
Wash the outside of the sealed jars with warm soapy water, give them a rinse, and gently towel them dry.
Label the jars and store them in cool space, out of direct light, until you're ready to use them.
This post is linked to Gallery of Favorites hosted by Premeditated Leftovers and The 21st Century Housewife, the Pity Party hosted by Thirty Handmade Days, to Foodie Friday hosted by Rattlebridge Farm, to Strut Your Stuff Saturdays at Six Sisters' Stuff, to Weekend Potluck hosted by Sunflower Supper Club, to Scrumptious Sunday hosted by Addicted to Recipes, to Makin' You Crave Monday hosted by Mrs. Happy Homemaker, to Busy Monday hosted by A Pinch of Joy,