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Learn how to can cherries at home and start preserving fruit this year. This method works for all stone fruits.
When there is a great deal on fresh cherries at the local grocery store, I buy a flat. For canning cherries, water bath preserving is used. It makes for a pretty easy job. Want to learn about canning cherries at home? Read on!
We like to use sweet cherries for our canning. Some people prefer Morello cherries, which are sour cherries. I have not seen Morello cherries available here.
We will never bother with planting cherry trees here. We have planted apple trees and enjoy harvesting those every year. But cherry trees?
No! We have so many birds here, not only all the birds that come to the Valley to lay their eggs and teach their babes to fly, but also ravens.
I don’t have time nor the inclination to spend putting nets over fruit trees here. And that includes cherry trees. So I am a buyer of grocery store cherries.
How to Can Cherries at Home
To get started canning cherries, fill a water bath canner with water and set on the stove on high heat, bringing the water to a boil.
Meanwhile, place cherries in cool water in the sink – I like to soak them for a little while. Then I let the water drain out, fill the sink again and give them a final rinse.
When I’m happy with how clean they are, I start pulling off the stems.
Do you pit cherries before canning?
You can pit cherries before canning, if you like. Using a pitting tool like this one makes that job a lot easier. If you are canning cherries for cherry pie filling, you will need to pit the cherries first.
Many people prefer pitting cherries so they don’t have to eat around the pit and then discard it. It’s up to individual preference, so you make the decision.
Can cherries be canned with pits?
Yes! Cherries can be canned with pits; I do NOT pit the cherries before water bath canning them. We don’t find it bothersome to have to remove the pit when eating.
If you can cherries with the pits, you may want to prick skins on opposite sides of the cherries as it may prevent splitting. You can use a clean needle for this.
We have not done this and have not had problems with any cherries splitting through the canning process.
I put empty pint jars into the now boiling water in the canner. They get sterilized for at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, I have a sugar syrup warming up in a large saucepan and I will add this liquid to the jars before canning.
I prefer using a hot pack method for cherries, as opposed to a raw pack method. Because of this, I will warm the cherries on the stove in this medium syrup before loading the jars.
Juices for Canning Cherries
Cherries can be canned in apple juice, white grape juice or in a light syrup or a medium syrup, depending on the sweetness of the cherries and your preference.
We prefer simply using a simple syrup and here are the ingredients and measurements that we use.
Simple Syrup Recipe
For the simple syrup, here are the measurements to make seven quart size jars:
- 8 1/4 cups water
- 3 3/4 cups sugar
Heat this on the stove on medium-high heat, stirring occasionally until the sugar is completely dissolved.
Once dissolved, you can heat the cherries in this mixture before placing in jars for canning.
Add enough syrup to each jar to completely cover the cherries, and leave 1/2 inch headspace. Remove any air bubbles using one of these bubble poppers, then wipe the rim of each jar. Add the seal and ring.
Boil in a water bath for 20 minutes; remove jars from the boiling water canner and let sit on a towel in a draft free place for 24 hours.
Do not touch the jars, just leave alone to seal and cool. After 24 hours you can check that your jars have all sealed then place in your food pantry.
If you have any jars that have not sealed you can can them again OR place the jar in the fridge and eat within a few days.
Using Tattler Lids and Seals
You can of course, use the more common canning seals and rings, but here is some information about Tattler Canning lids and seals if you want to use them.
While my jars are being sterilized and the berries are warming, I get my Tattler lids and seals ready by immersing them in hot water for 10 minutes.
If you’ve never used Tattler products, you should! These completely reusable lids and seals will last for years.
You will not be disappointed with your canning if you use their lids and seals; they are wonderful.
Once the jars are sterilized, remove them from the canner and fill them with your warm cherries, leaving 1/2 an inch headroom.
Ladle the syrup over top and then wipe the rims of the jars.
Process the jars in your water bath canner for 15 minutes.
After the water bath canning:
If I have used the Tattler lids and seals, I immediately tighten them. Do this as soon as you remove the jars from your canner!
I leave the rings in place until at least 24 hours after canning. Since I can reuse the rings, I put my jars away sealed but without the rings.
Here is the finished result. Don’t they look beautiful? I did some pints but also some half pints.
They are great for Graham to take to work and snack on. They make a wonderful dessert and the juice is delicious over ice cream. We’ll be enjoying these cherries this winter.
The Ball Blue Book of Canning is a fantastic resource – whether you are a beginner or an expert with canning.
Grab a copy, read it through, find some great canning recipes and know you are canning safely.
Want to make your own Salsa? Read here – there’s a great Salsa recipe and the whole process for canning them.
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Grab the free download available only to subscribers!
originally published 2012; updated May 2022