Cherry pie is a snap if you can cherry pie filling ahead of time. Cherries are an acid food and can be safely water bath canned.
These directions are for canning cherry pie filling, using either sweet cherries like bing cherries (this is what you see in the pictures) OR sour cherries that you traditionally use for pies.
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Canning Cherry Pie Filling: Extended, Step-By-Step Directions
Gather your canning supplies
- water bath canner
- canning jars
- canning seals and rings
- jar lifter and canning funnel
- large pot or blancher
- large spoons
- sharp knife
- towels and dish cloths
- cherry pitter – optional
- stock pot to cook cherries
- 6 quarts cherries (usually sour is preferred for pie filling, but I also use sweet cherries)
- 7 cups sugar
- 1 3/4 cups Clear Jel
- 9 1/3 cups water
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. cinnamon – optional
- 2 tsp. almond extract – optional
Wash and pit cherries. This is the most challenging part. :0) 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.
Plus, look at this cherry pitter (video below). I’ve tried many cherry pitters with disappointment. This is the one I like and…the best part is, the workers in the house (my sons) approve too. They are the ones who did most of the pitting here while they were growing up.
Place cherries in boiling water and boil for 1 minute. Drain. Keep warm. I do this simply by covering the pot until I am ready to mix in sugar mixture.
Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a large pan. Add water and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly.
Add cinnamon and almond extract if using.
When mixture begins to thicken and bubble, add the lemon juice and boil for 1 minute.
Add cherries, stirring gently to mix.
Fill hot jars with hot cherry pie filling, leaving 1″ headspace. Wipe the rims clean, remove any air bubbles, and place your lids.
For more packing details, follow water bath canning instructions.
Pints and quarts are processed the same for cherry pie filling: 30 minutes.
Please remember to adjust for altitude using the chart below. Read Altitude Adjustments to learn more.
Pinnable Recipe Card
Cherry Pie Filling
- 6 quarts cherries
- 7 cups sugar
- 1 ¾ cups Clear Jel
- 9 ⅓ cups water
- ½ cup lemon juice
- 1 tsp. cinnamon optional
- 2 tsp. almond extract optional
- 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.
- Wash and pit cherries.
- Place pitted cherries in boiling water. Boil 1 minute.
- Drain, but keep warm.
Prepare Clear Jel
- In a separate pot, cook sugar, Clear Jel, and water over medium heat, stirring constantly.
- Add cinnamon and almond extract (optional).
- Once thick and bubbling, add lemon juice. Boil for 1 minute.
- Add warm cherries to filling mix and stir gently to combine.
- Fill hot jar with hot filling, leaving 1" headspace.
- Remove air bubbles, wipe the rim clean, and place seal and ring.
- Place jar in the warm canner. Proceed to fill all jars.
- Process according to chart below.
Adapted from: The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Last Updated: 4/8/2021
Canning Cherry Pie Filling Tips & FAQs
Cherry Pie Filling Without Cornstarch or Flour: Use Clear Jel!
Back in the day, it was considered acceptable to use flour for a thickener in pie fillings. Switch to Clear Jel!
It is not only safer, it will give you a nicer filling with more consistent results when you are canning.
If you use Clear Jelm be sure you purchase the non-instant or regular type. Click here for more information: Clear Jel.
Cherry Pitter Video
Cherry Rhubarb Pie
I really love a cherry-rhubarb flavor combination. To make a cherry-rhubarb pie, simply add a cup or two of chopped rhubarb when you open the jar of cherry pie filling to make your pie. You can use fresh or frozen rhubarb. Proceed to fill your crust and bake as usual.
Canning cherries is a good alternative to freezing cherries and adds some bright color to any pantry. Use them for making quick cobblers, pies, or candied cherries.
I first made this oatmeal bar cookie recipe with cherry jam. Now I’ve tried them with rhubarb, peach, and more.
Freezing cherries to preserve them is easy and gives you a taste of summer, even when there’s snow on the ground. Sweet and delicious!
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Source: The National Center for Home Food Preservation
Page last updated: 7/9/2021