Thursday was the day to accomplish the task. I enlisted Angelina because this may well be her 4-H Food Preservation project for the coming 4-H year. As a 4-Her, I remember receiving a Grand on my cherries one year.
Memories of my dad, and all of us kids, eating canned cherries are still quite vivid. I have no idea if my family will like canned cherries as much as my dad and siblings did years ago, but I’m always looking for a good alternative to boxed cold cereal for our breakfasts.
Each canned quart needs about 2 to 2.5 pounds of cherries, pints approximately half that amount. We’ll use a raw pack with a light sugar syrup. Interestingly, the Ball Canning Book recommends pricking each cherry if they are not pitted … I do NOT remember doing this when canning with my mom. Rather than rely on my somewhat shady memories of canning, we’ll prick the cherries to prevent bursting or shrinking.
Light Sugar Syrup
2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
5 1/2 cups water
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and heat at med-high until the sugar is dissolved. Keep the sugar syrup heated until ready to pour over fruit. Each batch yields 6 1/2 cups of syrup. (I like to make a double batch right away. If there is leftover it can be stored in the frig for a couple weeks until the next canning session.)
Raw Pack Processing:
1. Wash cherries and drain.
2. Prepare the light syrup, and keep it hot.
3. Sterilize jars. I have used the dishwasher to sterilize, but have also used the boiling water in the canner to accomplish the task. The dishwasher will keep the jars hot, but you can also use the oven to keep jars hot.
4. Ladle 1/2 cup hot syrup into a sterilized, hot jar.
5. Fill jar with cherries. Shake the jar gently to pack the cherries and leave 1/2 inch headspace.
6. Ladle hot syrup over the cherries to cover. Remove air bubbles, wipe jar rims and cap.
7. Process pints and quarts for 25 minutes in a boiling water canner. Since we live above sea level, our processing time is adjusted by adding 5 minutes.
8. Let jars cool for 24 hours before storing.