Cherry Pie Filling

My mom used to take my siblings and I cherry picking every year. We picked what seemed like gallons of sour cherries that my mom would then pit and stash in the enormous freezer in the garage. Each February my mom would make a batch of cherries in the snow in honor of George Washington’s birthday. Turns out my husband’s favorite pie is also cherry so in an effort to save freezer space I started canning cherry pie filling about 10 years ago. Stefan and I always used to pick them too, sometimes driving a long while to get to the nearest sour cherry orchard. Recently though, we’ve found that if we get to the farmer’s market early on a Saturday in late June we might get lucky in the cherry department.


DATE: 07/02/2010
FRUIT: 6 quarts cherries
SOURCE: farmer’s market
COST: $30

6 qt pitted sour cherries
7 c sugar
1.75 c Clear Jel
9 + 1/3 c cold water
1/2 c lemon juice
2 tsp vanilla extract

Hold the pitted cherries in cold water. To prevent stem end browning, you may use an ascorbic acid solution.

For fresh fruit, place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon boiling water. Boil each batch 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot.

Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a large non-reactive saucepan and add water and vanilla extract. Stir mixture and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.

Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in drained cherries immediately and fill hot sterilized jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process immediately for 30 minutes in a hot water bath.

YIELD: the recipe makes 7 quarts but for some reason I didn’t have quite enough to fill the final quart, so I only got 6 canned
TASTE: delish!


  1. Louise said

    Don’t you love those sour cherries? We pick them every year from my grandparents’ single tree, and usually have enough for about twelve pies. My freezer is always full of cherries– next year maybe I’ll have to try canning them. Your recipe looks great.

  2. Mimi said

    I’d like to try this recipe this year, yum!

  3. […] FRUIT: 10 cups cherries from the freezer SOURCE: farmer’s market last year RECIPE: this recipe YIELD: 3 quarts TASTE: […]

  4. leena! said

    What a great idea. How many pies does a quart jar fill? I can’t wait to try this out!

  5. Danielle said

    When you make a pie from this filling, is the 1 quart of cherry pie filling enough to fill a 9-inch pie? Also, how long do you cook the pie and at what temperature? Sorry, I know these seem like obvious questions but I’m pretty new to baking/canning so I want to make sure. Can’t wait to try this recipe on the 10 lbs of frozen cherries I got from the farm this week! Which reminds me, another question…I mistakenly got pre-sugared frozen cherries. Should I just rinse as much of the sugar off of them as possible? Thanks!

  6. […] strawberrry-rhubarb compote : 7 quarter-pints strawberry jam : 10 half-pints cherry pie filling : 9 quarts cherry jelly : 14 half-pints blueberry butter : 7 half-pints blue + black jam : 1 pint, 5 […]

  7. […] strawberrry-rhubarb compote : 7 quarter-pints strawberry jam : 10 half-pints cherry pie filling : 9 quarts cherry jelly : 14 half-pints blueberry butter : 7 half-pints blue + black jam : 1 pint, 5 […]

  8. elanorh said

    1 quart jar = 1 nine inch pie (for those asking).

    I’ve used this recipe for awhile; this year, half the ‘water’ I used was Knudson’s organic tart cherry juice. Even better! I think it diminished the ‘set’ a little, next time I’ll use a little more Clear Jel.

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