Canning Cherries

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Canning cherries gives you convenient jars of cherries to have on hand for making cherry pie, pouring over ice cream, or using in a cherry cobbler. (See my Cherry Rhubarb Crisp recipe further down the page.)

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

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

Canning Cherries: Extended, Step-By-Step Directions

Gather Your Canning Supplies:

Ingredients:

  • cherries – As many as you can stand to pit! (We had a LOT of cherries!)
  • sugar – for the syrup

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.

  • extra light – 1 cup sugar to 4 1/2 cups water
  • light – 2 cups sugar to 4 cups water
  • medium – 3 cups sugar to 4 cups water
  • heavy – 4 cups sugar to 4 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

To make the syrup you’ll simply combine water and your sweetener in a pot on the stove. Heat and until boiling or until the sugar is disolved. Stir well. Keep this hot as it will need to be very hot when it goes into the jars.

How to Can Cherries

A cluster of dark red cherries on the tree.
Pitted cherries waiting in a bowl.

Cherry Pitting Tip

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

Actually, it is not challenging, just 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 used to get my boys going, and they would all have a sit-down-and-pit-cherries party.

They’d 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 all by myself if I don’t have to.

Canning Cherries Raw Pack

Place cherries in a jar leaving a 1/2 inch headspace. You do not have to heat the cherries as long as they are not cold from the refrigerator. Room temperature is fine.

Packing a clear jar with pitted cherries.
Pouring liquid from a tea kettle into jars of cherries.
Removing bubbles and measuring headspace in a jar of cherries.

When I’m filling my jars I like to add 1/2 cup or so of hot syrup to the jar, then fill half of the way with cherries. Tap the bottom of the jar lightly on a pot holder laid on the counter to settle contents. Then fill the jar the rest of the way, tapping more to settle cherries without smashing. It is a balance of filling the jar, but not squishing your cherries tightly when canning cherries.

Cover cherries in jar with hot syrup, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and clean the rim of jar. It might be sticky and that stickyness might interfere with the seal of the lid.

Place your lids on the jar and add the screw bands just finger tight. Place the jar in the canner and continue until all the jars are filled. Then you’ll process according to either water bath canning procedures OR Steam canning procedures.

Process pints or quarts for 25 minutes, adjusting for altitude using the chart in the recipe card below. For more information on why this is important, see this altitude adjustments page.

For more details on how to use your water bath canner click here…

For more details on how to use your steam canner click here….

Canning Cherries Hot Pack

Place cherries and syrup in pot. (Use 1/2 cup syrup to 1 quart of fruit.) Heat this mixture to a low boil.

Fill the jars with cherries and liquid, leaving 1/2″ headspace and removing air bubbles.

Wiping the rim of the jar of cherries with a wet paper towel.
Placing the flat lid using a magnetic lid lifting tool.
Screwing on the lid on a jar of cherries.

Wipe the rim clean so any stickiness doesn’t interfere with the seal. Then place on lid and ring. Place the jar in the warm canner and proceed to fill all jars. Then process according to either steam or water bath canning.

For more details on how to use your water bath canner click here…

For more details on how to use your steam canner click here….

Process pints for 15 minutes or quarts for 20 minutes, adjusting for altitude using the chart below. For more information on why this is important, see this altitude adjustments page.

Pinnable Recipe Card

Canning Cherries

Canning cherries gives you convenient jars of cherries to have on hand for making cherry pie, pouring over ice cream, or using in a cherry cobbler.
Print Recipe
Two pint jars filled with large dark colored cherries.
Prep Time:1 hour
Processing Quarts (adjust for altitude):25 minutes
Total Time:1 hour 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • Cherries 
  • Sugar optional, for syrup

Instructions

  • Start by preparing jars and getting water in the canner heating. You want the canner hot, but not boiling, when the jars are ready to be processed.
    See full water bath canning instructions here.  
    1. Make a light or medium syrup. 
    2. Wash and pit cherries. 
    3. Proceed with raw or hot pack.  

For a Raw Pack

  • Add 1/2 cup or so of syrup to the jar. 
  • Fill half of the way with cherries, tapping jar to settle contents. 
  • Finish filling jar. 
  • Cover with hot syrup, leaving 1/2” headspace. 
  • Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rim clean and place on your seal and ring. Place the jar in the canner. Proceed to fill all jars. Process according to the chart below.  

For a Hot Pack

  • Place cherries with syrup (1/2 cup syrup to 1 quart cherries) in pot. 
  • Heat to a low boil.  
  • Fill jars with cherries and liquid, leaving 1/2” headspace. 
  • Remove air bubbles. Wipe the rim clean and place on your seal and ring. Place the jar in the hot canner. Proceed to fill all jars. Process according to water bath canning instructions.

Processing time is listed below.

    Notes

    Processing with a Water Bath Canner
    Place the jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars placing them in the canner.
    When all the jars are filled, bring the water in the canner to a boil.  When a boil is reached that is when you’ll start your timing.   Process for the length of time on the chart below.  Adjust for your altitude. 
     After your time is over, turn the heat off remove the lid and allow the canner to rest for about 5 minutes. Then bring your jars up out of the water.  Allow them to rest for another 5 minutes. Then remove the jars and place them a few inches apart on a thick towel to cool completely.  Leave them alone for about 12 hours.  
    When they are cooled remove the metal bands, check the seals, label the jars and store them away! 
    Processing Times for Water Bath Canner (Raw Pack)  
    Altitude – Pints and Quarts are Processed the Same 
    0-1,000 ft – 25 minutes 
    1,001-3,000 ft – 30 minutes 
    3,001-6,000 ft – 35 minutes 
    Above 6,000 ft – 40 minutes 
    Processing Times for Water Bath Canner (Hot Pack) 
    Altitude – Pints – Quarts 
    0-1,000 ft – 15 minutes – 20 minutes 
    1,001-3,000 ft – 20 minutes – 25 minutes 
    3,001-6,000 ft – 20 minutes – 30 minutes  
    Above 6,000 ft – 25 minutes – 35 minutes 
    Adapted from: The National Center for Home Food Preservation
    Servings: 2 to 2 1/2 pounds of cherries per a quart jar

    Canning Cherries Tips & FAQs

    How Do You Can Sour Cherries? How Do You Can Sweet Cherries?

    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.

    Can You Can Cherries Without Sugar?

    I prefer extra light syrup, but you could use just water if you don’t want to add any sweetness.

    Pressure Canning Cherries?

    Cherries are a high-acid food, so they’re safe for water bath canning. No pressure canner required! To read more about when to use a pressure canner, check out this page.

    What About Canning Cherries with Pits?

    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.

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    Canning Cherries

    A Recipe for You: Cherry Rhubarb Crisp

    Cherry Rhubarb Crisp

    Take a rhubarb crisp recipe and substitute cherries for half the rhubarb? Mmmm, mmmm, good! This cherry rhubarb crisp is delicious.
    Print Recipe
    Mixture of pitted cherries and sliced red and green rhubarb.
    Prep Time:30 minutes
    Cook Time:50 minutes
    Total Time:1 hour 20 minutes

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups Rhubarb cut up
    • 2 cups Cherries fresh pitted or 1 pint well-drained, canned cherries
    • ½ teaspoons Salt
    • 1 ½ cups Sugar
    • ¾ cup Flour I used whole wheat
    • cup Butter at room temp

    Instructions

    • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
    • Mix rhubarb and cherries in an ungreased, 8×8" baking dish.
    • Sprinkle salt over fruit.
    • Mix sugar and flour. Mix in butter until mixture is crumbly.
    • Sprinkle over fruit.
    • Bake 40-50 minutes or until top is lightly browned and fruit is bubbly.
    • Serve warm with cream or vanilla ice cream.
    Servings: 1 crisp

    Source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation

    Page last updated: 7/6/2021

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    Suzanne
    Suzanne
    1 year ago

    5 stars
    Your passion for canning and food preservation is really inspiring ! Thank you so much for the detailed information which has helped me no end with water bath canning my first cherry harvest ever! I’ve never canned anything before and this article means I will definitely be returning for more advice ☺️🍒

    Matthew R Brown
    Matthew R Brown
    2 years ago

    My grandma use to can cherries but hers looked white or yellowish im trying to recreate them any tips on how or what kind of cherries

    Rachel Abernathy
    Admin
    Rachel Abernathy
    2 years ago

    Would they have been Rainier cherries perhaps?

    -Rachel (Sharon’s assistant)

    Anna
    Anna
    2 years ago

    Hi! Do you need to soak the pitted cherries in any acid to reduce browning?

    Kristi
    Kristi
    2 years ago

    Hi Sharon, thanks for the super easy recipe. I just put up 6 quarts and 9 pints! Do we have to wait to eat them, like pickles? Thanks again!

    Lori Kepple
    Lori Kepple
    2 years ago

    Do you need to cook the sugar & water to make a syrup?How long?

    Al Chapman
    Al Chapman
    3 years ago

    How long can these cherries last on a shelf in a Michigan basement?

    Rachel Abernathy
    Admin
    Rachel Abernathy
    3 years ago
    Reply to  Al Chapman

    At least 12 months is the official recommendation, but it’s not really a safety issue – it is more of a quality thing. 🙂 Read more: https://www.simplycanning.com/food-canning/

    -Rachel (Sharon’s assistant)