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.
FRUIT: 6 quarts cherries
SOURCE: farmer’s market
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