Making and Canning Cherry Pie Filling and Jam

Summer’s in British Columbia are relatively short but beautiful. The fruit harvest begins with cherries and later there are peaches, blackberries, apples, pears mostly grown in the Okanagan in the interior of the province.

My husband walked in this week lugging a very large bag of Rainier Cherries. We ate what we could over the next couple of days but the only way to preserve the rest would be to can then.

I made 3 jars of Bourbon cherries great for cocktails or just popping a couple in your mouth for a boozy treat. They’re quite easy to make, just cherries, bourbon and sugar. Because alcohol is a preservative these will keep in the fridge for up to 2 years as long as they’re sealed. Once open, you’ll want to use them within 6 months.

I used the rest of the Cherries to make Pie filling and Jam. The filling can be used immediately. 1 Litre will make a pie for about 8 people. This filling will keep in the fridge for 4 days. I canned some to use later in the year – Thanksgiving cherry pie!

Cherry Pie Filling

INGREDIENTS

This recipe will make 1 pie or 1 ltr of filling.

  • 5 cups cherries pitted
  • ¼ cup water
  • ⅔ cup  sugar
  • ¼ cup  cornstarch (you can also use ClearJel if you prefer)
  • 1 tablespoon (15ml) lemon juice 
    1 teaspoon of Cinnamon and a good pinch of Nutmeg

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pit your cherries and place them in a pot with the 1/4 cup of water. Place over medium-low heat and cover. Bring to a boil and cook stirring occasionally until the cherries start to soften and release their juices, about 15 minutes.
  • Make a cornstarch slurry by adding the cornstarch with an additional ¼ cup of COLD water to a small bowl and stir with a spoon. Set aside.
  • Add the lemon juice to the cherries and stir.
  • Add the sugar into the cherries, then add the cornstarch slurry. Stir continuously while the mixture thickens, which will happen within minutes.
  • Remove the cherries from the heat. Cool to room temperature and use immediately if you’re making a pie. If you’re canning the filling like I did then read canning instructions below.

Canning The Pie Filling

You Will Need:

Sterilized canning jars – I sterilized my jars by running them through the dishwasher. The dishwasher will keep them hot until it’s ready to fill them.

Sterilized canning lids (I placed them in a pot with water and let them simmer for about 10 minutes)

Canning equipment – pot, rack, tongs , canning funnel, etc.

Instructions:

Once the pie filling was done cooking I set my jars out and placed the funnel over the jar and scooped filling into each jar leaving about an 1inch + 1/2 from the top.

If there is any of the filling that has splashed onto the jar, wipe the mouth of the jar with a clean damp cloth and fasten the lids on tightly.

Place the large pot filled with water (enough to cover each jar with about 2 inches of water) on high heat over the stove with the canning rack inside of it.

As the water heats, add the jars with the pie filling into the pot. Bring the water to a boil and set a timer for 30 minutes – keep in mind that depending on the altitude you live at, you will need to adjust the time. We live at sea level so 30 minutes is enough.

Once the timer is up, pull the jars out of the boiling water with the canning tongs and place the jars on a rack to cool. Properly canned (unopened) fruit fillings and jams should last up to 3 years.

Cherry Jam

Before you start, put 2 small salad plates or bowls to chill in the freezer.

Note: if you are making jam to eat right away, you don’t need to can it. It can go into the fridge and will be good for almost a year. I made 5 jars (4 x 125 mls + 1 x 500 mls jars) . I wanted to preserve the smaller jars so I canned them.

Before canning, always sanitize jars and soak lids in boiling water for 10 minutes regardless if they are new-from-the-store jars.

Ingredients

  • 6 Cups of  cherries
  • 2 cups of granulated sugar
  • 3 Tbsp of Lemon Juice

Instructions

  • Once you’ve pit the cherries, cut  three quarters of them in half, leaving the other quarter whole.
  • Put the copped cherries in a deep pan or pot (I like to use my enamel crock pot for jams) along with the lemon juice and set over a medium/low heat.
  • Gently crush the cherries using a potato masher, bring to a simmer and let cook for about 7 minutes.
  • Add the sugar until all the sugar has dissolved.
  • Putheat up to Medium and bring cherries to a rolling boil and cook for 10 minutes. Adjust heat to lower if it’s boiling too strongly.
  • Now it’s time to start testing it to see if the jam is thickening.
  • Remove from the heat and drizzle a few drops of jam onto a chilled plate from the freezer.
  • Place plate in the fridge for a minute and then run your finger through the jam. It should feel sticky.
  • Mine was not quite ready yet so I continued to boil it for another 15-20 minutes. You can check the jam every 10 minutes or so putting a dollop on the chilled plated and putting it in the fridge for a minute or 2. After about 25 minutes of gently boiling the jam and testing it…it was ready.
  • Ladle the hot jam into hot jars and place lids on immediately.
  • Allow to cool, then store in a cool dark place (will keep for years but best eaten in first year). Store in fridge once open.
  • I did can 4 of the small jars I made.

It’s satisfying to have canned preserves in the pantry, especially ones you’ve made yourself. As the harvest moves through the Summer I’ll try other recipes with vegetables and seasonal fruit.

I hope you’re having a wonderful Summer season. I’m on my way to the very north western tip of Vancouver Island for my Birthday this week. We will be hiking at San Josef Bay in the Cape Scott Provincial Park. I hope to get some good photos to share on my next blog.

I will be posting every Friday from now on.

Thanks for joining me today.

Love,

Jennifer

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