Canned Cherries




Introduction: Canned Cherries

About: I'm a biologist interested in all things sciency. I love to figure out how things work and to make my own stuff, be it food, woodworking, electronics or sewing.

The cherries in our garden are a bit to sour for my taste, but they are great for canning. In their canned form they are absolutely delicious. Canning them is also a great way to preserve them for cakes, desserts and drinks for the rest of the year. A favorite is putting them on top of ice cream. yum yum.

Step 1: What You'll Need


Measuring cup

The basic recipe is:
1kg berries
4 dl water
600g sugar

Step 2: Prepare the Berries

Pick or buy the desired ammount of cherries. Give them a quick rinse in water and depit them. You can remove the pits using a knife or a paperclip, but I much prefer a depiting tool like the one pictured here. You can find them on ebay and they don't cost much.

Step 3: Boil the Berries in Sugar Water

Weigh the depited cherries and put water equal to 0.4 times the weight of the berries in a pot (1 kg berries = 4 dl water). Add sugar equalling 0,6 times the weight of the berries to the water (600 g of sugar for 1 kg of berries). This depends a lot on how sweet your cherries are, so try a small batch the first time.

Boil the water and add the berries when the sugar is dissolved. Simmer the berries for 10 minutes.

Step 4: Can the Berries

Clean the jars you are planning on using, and sterilize them. We usually do this by filling them with boiling water and letting them sit for a while.
After this step it is a good idea to wear rubber gloves, both to protect your hands from boiling liquids and help keeping things sterile.

Fill the jars to the rim with berries and sugar water and cap them. The heat from the berries and syrup will help sterilize the jars, but it needs to be boiling hot when you cap them for this to work. The jars must be hot to minimize the risk of cracking. If done right, the berries can now be stored in a cool dark place for years. To do this successfully, you need to be quick, and you need to be careful not to touch and contaminate the inside of jars or caps. This method of preserving only works for acidic food like cherries.

A different way to preserve the berries would be to use water bath canning. This is the recommended canning procedure. The only reason I don't use it here, is that the open pot canning described above has always worked perfectly fine on my jams and canned fruits. Fill and cap warm glass jars as previously described. Put the jars in a pot of simmering water. You should use a canning rack or a thick towel to keep the jars from touching the bottom of the pot. Putting the jars directly in the pot would increase the chance of jars cracking, and it could burn the contents as the bottom of the jar gets to hot. The jars should be covered by about 5 cm of water. Boil them for 10 minutes, remove the jars and leave them to cool down. Make sure you don't place the jars directly on a cold surface like a stone or metal bench top, or in a place with a cold draft. Putting them directly in the fridge is a big no no. The sharp temperature gradient between the inside and the outside of the jar could cause it to crack because of tension in the glass.

When you first add the berries to the glasses, they will be floating. After a few days they will start sinking as shown on the last picture. This happens when sugar diffuses into the berries from the syrup. They are now ready to be enjoyed.

If you wish, you can add additional flavors during the boiling, like vanilla and cinnamon. This will add flavor to the berries over time. If you do this, you should leave the berries for at least a couple of weeks before eating them to let the flavors penetrate.

You have now successfully canned a bit of summer to be enjoyed for the rest of the year. All you have to do next is to produce some ice cream to enjoy the cherries with.

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    5 years ago

    Schouw - I hate to say this but your 'ible' is missing the canning part. You are going to make people very sick if they do not process the cherries in a boiling water bath for the appropriate length of time. You may have gotten lucky and added enough sugar to preserve the cherries but not everyone likes the same level of sweetness. And you say how much sugar to use depends on the sweetness of the cherries so there is no guarantee your cherries will not spoil. Try the "Ball Blue Book" for clear simple canning directions. Or just Google "how to water bath can".

    Also, some of your jars appear to be re-used jars. These are not acceptable for home canning. When you remove these jars from the boiling water bath and they are exposed instantly to room temperature, they may explode causing horrendous damage to anyone in the area. The purchased canning jars are specially made to endure the sudden temperature changes. My mother-in-law taught me to can roughly 40 years ago and she learned to can probably 40 years before she taught me. Years ago, companies would sell their products in jars that could be re-used for canning and it was clearly advertised on the jars as a selling point. Companies, at least in the USA, do not do that today. Since you use weights as measurements, I do not believe you are from the USA - not a problem for me - but the jars must be labeled as safe for re-use in canning no matter where you live..


    Reply 5 years ago

    Thank you for your concern, but I assure you this is quite safe. I'll give you the reasons why this works. I expect you already know a lot of this, but I'll write it for the benefit of others.

    First of all I should mention that I am a university researcher in microbiology, so I'm not taking any of this out of the blue.

    This method of preserving is something I would ONLY do with with low acid foods.

    The main point of canning is to halt the growth of bacteria and fungi in the food, so it can be safely stored over time. Most of the microorganisms growing in food alters the taste or texture into something you would immediately recognize as spoilt, and you would not eat it. The killer in canning is the bacterium Clostridium botulinum. It thrives in environments with low or no oxygen (as in canned foods) and it produces the botulinum toxin. BoTox is tasteless and odorless, and unfortunately happens to be one of the most potent toxins known. C. botulinum produces spores that survive normal boiling, so we either have to use a pressure cooker to achieve higher temperatures to kill them (water bath canning is not enough), or prevent them from germinating. In most jams and canned fruits, we do the last thing. There is one thing that C. botulinum is not particularly fond of, and that is low pH. At a pH lower than 4.5, the bacteria will not grow, and the spores will not germinate. Luckily most fruits are so naturally acidic that this alone will halt C. botulinum. So as for keeping you alive, the cherries already took care of that part. More important than the amount of sugar is the amount of water. Add to much water, and the acid in the fruit may be to diluted.

    When it comes to sugar, that also works as a preservative, hindering the growth of manny different bacteria and fungi. It does this by binding up the water, creating an osmotic gradient that will effectively dry out most microorganisms. Salt does the same thing. Now, if you got the glass and the contents properly sterilized by heat, the sugar is not essential for the storage, though it also helps preserve taste and color. The sugar becomes important when you open a jar of jam and start eating it. Once you take the lid of, you let in bacteria and fungi that will happily eat your preserves, now that there is oxygen available too. Sugar helps prevent and slow down this growth.

    When it comes to the jars, they are indeed re-used, and have been re-used many times. These jars are agreeably not the best for home canning as they can crack more easily than purpose made canning jars. That said, I have never had one of them crack so far. I have had jars crack on two occasions, and both of them were tempered laboratory jars that were definitely suppose to handle the temperature differences. There are a few things you can do to prevent cracking. One is to not use jars with visible cracks or scratches. The other is to avoid big temperature differences between the inside and outside of the jar. Don't try to cool a warm jar in cold water, or put it down on a stone or metal bench top.

    I would like to quote the distinguished canner June Taylor: "The only way you can hurt someone with a jar of jam is if you crack them in the head with it"

    The best thing would of course be to boil the jars in a water bath after filling them. The only reason I don't do it is that I have never found it to be needed on jams and acidic fruits.


    Reply 2 years ago

    You mean high acid foods, right? Also, if you were to try for extra caution and do a water bath canning after filling the jars, how long would you boil them?


    Question 3 years ago

    How long will they stay nice??


    Answer 3 years ago

    As long as they are sterile, they should keep for decades, though the taste will change over time. Canned fruits often loose some of the acidity over time, and develop a deeper, more mellow taste.