Canning Cherries

with Sharon Peterson

Canning cherries is a good alternative to freezing and adds some bright color to any pantry. Use them for making quick cobblers, pies, or making candied cherries. has what you need!

Canning cherries gives you convenient jars of cherries to have on hand for cherry pie, pouring over ice cream or in a cherry cobbler.  (See my cherry rhubarb crisp recipe at the  bottom of this page.)

Cherries are an acid food and can be safely water bath canned.  

These directions are for either sweet cherries like bing cherries (this is what you see in the pictures) OR sour cherries that you use for pies.  

Canning plain cherries in a light syrup makes it easy to create desserts of your choice later. I like simplicity!

I made a few jars of pie filling and I canned some cherry jam this year too. 

My husband is a big fan of frozen cherries so I also froze 5 - 1 gallon bags of those as well.

He says they are just like popsicles.  I say they are much better for you too. 


Gather your supplies

Gather your canning supplies


  • Cherries -as many as you can stand to pit!  (we had a LOT of cherries!)
  • sugar - for the syrup (optional)

Syrup for Packing

Make syrup of your choice to pour over cherries. If you are doing sour cherries you may want a medium or heavy syrup. 

I prefer extra light syrup. You could use just water if you don't want to add any sweetness.  

  • extra light - 1 cup sugar to 4 1/2 cups water
  • light - 2 cups sugar to 5 cups water
  • medium - 3 cups sugar to  5 1/2 cups water
  • heavy - 4 3/4 cups sugar to 6 1/2 cups water

You can also make a syrup with honey if you don't want to use processed sugar.

  • light - 1 1/2 cups honey to 4 cups water
  • medium - 2 cups honey to 4 cups water


The first thing you'll have to do is pit the cherries.  Pitting is the most challenging part.  :0)

Actually it is not challenging but more tedious.   But if you just sit down and DO IT, you can make some delicious dishes.   Have a friend come over and visit while you pit. 

My husband likes cherries enough that he gets my boys going and they all have a sit down and pit cherries party. 

They make a mess but the cherries are pitted when they are done.  I love it.  I certainly don't want to pit all those cherries if I don't have to.  

Speaking of Cherry Pitting.... 

Actually canning cherries with the pits is perfectly acceptable but I don't really recommend it. It makes them quicker and easier to use if you go ahead and pit them now.  If you want to can them with the pits just prick each cherry with a sterilized needle to prevent it from bursting.

Place cherries in jar. You do not have to heat the cherries as long as they are not cold from the refrigerator.  Just a raw pack is fine.  

I have found it works to add 1/2 cup or so of syrup to the jar, then fill halfway with cherries. Tap the bottom of the jar lightly on a pot holder laid on the counter to settle contents. The fill the jar the rest of the way tapping to settle without smashing.  It is a balance filling the jar but not squishing your cherries tightly.  

Cover cherries in jar with syrup leaving 1/2 inch head space.  Remove air bubbles and clean rim of jar.  

Wipe the rims clean, remove any air bubbles and place your lids.

For more details follow water bath canning instructions.


pints or quarts for 25 minutes.

Processing time comes from

Be sure to adjust processing time according to your altitude.

Altitude Adjustments for Boiling Water Bath Canner

Altitude in Feet - Increase processing time

1001-3000 - increase 5 minutes

3001-6000 - increase 10 minutes

6001-8000 - increase 15 minutes

8001-10,000 - increase 20 minutes

For more information on why this is important, see this altitude adjustments page.

A recipe for ya.  Cherry Rhubarb Crisp

Take a Rhubarb Crisp recipe, substitute cherries for half the rhubarb... Mmmm Mmmm Good!

Take a Rhubarb Crisp recipe, substitute cherries for half the rhubarb... Mmmm Mmmm Good!


  • 2 cups cut up rhubarb
  • 2 cups fresh pitted cherries or 1 pint well drained canned cherries.
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cups flour (I used whole wheat)
  • 1/3 cup butter (room temperature)


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Mix rhubarb and cherries in an ungreased 8X8 inch baking dish.
  • Sprinkle salt over fruit.
  • Mix sugar and flour. Mix in butter until mixture is crumbly.
  • Sprinkle over fruit.
  • Bake 40 to 50 minutes or until top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly.

Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.

More recipes for canning cherries.

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by Sharon Peterson, Copyright © 2009-2019

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Information given has not been evaluated by the FDA or USDA, you are encouraged to verify all canning and food preservation advice on the USDA food preservation website. 

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