Hope you are having a fabulous summer Heather has had a couple of cousins up visiting, which means busy times
So we went and picked cherries. The tree has been there a while, so we don’t know what type these are, but they are a tangy pie type cherry.
Heather got the job of pitting almost 4 gallons of cherries by herself.
(Please tell me other people have stuff sitting on their countertops, too!)
My big helper’s reaction when she found out there was still another bucket to be pitted
After pitting cherries, you can put them in an ascorbic acid solution (like Fruit Fresh) to help maintain color. I confess, I skipped this step. But if you would prefer to use it, by all means do so
Bring 1 gallon of water to a boil.
For 7 quarts of pie filling, wash and pit 6 quarts of cherries.
Place 6 cups of cherries at a time into the boiling water. Boil each batch for 1 minute after it returns to a boil.
…but keep heated in a covered bowl or saucepan.
Make sure you have canning jars cleaned and sitting in hot water. Have lids in hot water to soften sealant. Get water bath canner water starting to heat up.
For 7 quarts of pie filling, combine 7 cups sugar and 1 3/4 cups Clear Jel. Add 9 1/3 cups cold water.
I confess, I had some hesitations about using Clear Jel. It is a modified corn starch. I’ve tried using plain corn starch and it just won’t can properly. Clear Jel is not organic, so chances of it being GMO in nature are pretty high.
Add 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp nutmeg, 2 tsp almond extract and 1/4 tsp red food coloring. Stir and cook over med-high heat until mixture begins to thicken and boil. Some of the Clear Jel clumped on me, so I used a whisk to break down the clumps.
I tried using a natural based red food colorant. It did not impart a bright red color like traditional food coloring does. But it also doesn’t have the weird stuff in it that can make kids hyper.
Add in 1/2 cup lemon juice.
Fold in 6 quarts of drained cherries.
Mixture will be thick.
Fill hot jars with hot filling. Run a plastic knife down the sides of the jar to eliminate air bubbles.
Wipe rim of jar clean. Affix two piece lids.
0-1,000 feet: process 30 min
1,000-3,000 feet: process 35 min
3,000-6,000 feet: process 40 min
Above 6,000 feet: process 45 min
Even with the red food coloring, the filling has more of the coloration of apple pie filling, which is why I skipped the ascorbic acid step. If the cherries were more red in color, it would have brightened the finished product.
Filling is pretty tasty Enjoy over a cheesecake, ice cream or of course, in a pie I ended up with 6 quarts and 1 pint of filling, rather than 7 full quarts.
* recipe adapted from Purdue University’s “Complete Guide to Home Canning”
Do not regret growing older, it is a privilege denied to many