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Canned Cherries

Canning cherries is a fun and easy way to preserve your favorite fruit for the winter. This article will guide you through canning fresh sweet cherries to use in pies, cobblers, or just as a topping for ice cream!

There's something about canning that I just am so drawn to. It's weird because it's just cooking, right? And, yeah, I love cooking, but there's something different with canning.

Maybe it's the canning jars with their different sizes and shapes, or maybe because I can make something I generally only whip up once a year, or maybe it's cause I have a vintage canner that's older than me and just love that!

Whatever the reason is, canning has become one of my favorite hobbies! And if you're here, I think it's the same for you!

This canned cherries recipe is dedicated to hobbies.

Two jars of canned cherries.

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Tips + Tricks

No. 1 --> Store your cherries in the fridge and avoid washing them until just before you're ready to process.

No. 2 --> Don't forget to adjust your processing time based on your elevation and jar choice. There are tables below to explain!

No. 3 --> Cherries do not ripen further once they are picked from the tree, so ensure you're picking the ripest, most delicious cherries you can find!

No. 4 --> There are two methods to can fresh cherries, raw pack and hot pack, read below to find out which suits your needs! I use the raw pack method.

Canned cherries in a large mason jar.

Key Ingredients

Cherries: Pick ripe cherries! The biggest cherries are generally the most flavorful and sweet. Set aside any bruised, damaged, or moldy fruit.

Sugar: You can't have a sweet syrup without it! Use granulated sugar for the syrup - I find it to be the best sugar to add sweetness without impacting the flavor of your yummy cherries!

Cherries in a metal bucket.

Raw Pack Vs Hot Pack

Raw packing the cherries is a canning process where the simple syrup is brought to a boil, but the cherries are packed into the jar raw, and the jars are then filled with the heated simple syrup.

Hot packing is when the cherries are brought to a boil along with the simple syrup, then the works are added to the jars in one step.

The raw pack method does not remove as much air from the cells of the fruit, so the cherries are more likely to float. The extra air can actually cause the cherries to discolor after about 3 months. I recommend this method if you plan on using your cherries within 3 months.

The hot pack method removes more air from the fruit before adding it to the jar causing the fruit to shrink slightly. The shrink factor allows you to fit more fruit per jar. Hot-packed cherries are less likely to float and will resist discoloration. I'd use this method if you know you won't be using your cherries within 3 months.

I generally raw pack my cherries, I find it easier, and we have no problem using them quickly!

Cherries spilling out of a metal bucket.

How To Pit Cherries Without A Cherry Pitter

Using a cherry pitter is nice, but if you don't have one there are other options!

  • Place the cherry stem side up on an empty beer bottle and using a stainless steel straw, chopstick, or kebob stick, punch through the top of the cherry and the pit will fall into the beer bottle below. This is my preferred method as I find it much easier and cleaner.
  • Use a small pairing knife and cut the cherries in half to remove the pit. This method works great if you're planning on using your cherries in pies or baked goods as they are already halved but, it is more time-intensive and definitely messier!

How To Can Fresh Cherries

Raw pack:

  1. Wash and sterilize your quart (1L) jars. Fill a large water bath canner with water and begin heating it over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and pit fresh cherries. They can be left whole or halved, depending on your desired outcome. Set aside.
  3. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Prepare sterilized jars by placing them on a heat-proof surface.
  5. Add a cup or so of syrup to the jars before packing them with cherries, leaving 1 inch of headspace.
  6. Top off the jars with hot syrup, leaving 1/2" headspace.
  7. Wipe rims and cover with a lid. Tighten the rings finger tight.
  8. Carefully lower the jars into the boiling water bath and process at a rolling boil. See chart below for timing depending on elevation.

Hot Pack:

  1. Wash and sterilize your Quart (1L) jars. Fill a large water bath canner with water and begin heating it over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and pit fresh cherries. They can be left whole or halved, depending on your desired outcome. Set aside.
  3. Combine water, sugar, and cherries in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Prepare sterilized jars by placing them on a heat-proof surface.
  5. Fill the jars with the heated cherry mixture, leaving 1/2" headspace.
  6. Wipe rims and cover with a lid. Tighten the rings finger tight.
  7. Carefully lower the jars into the boiling water bath and process at a rolling boil. See chart below for timing depending on elevation.

Processing Times

Your elevation plays a role in your canning! Higher elevations have longer processing times to account for the lower boiling point of your water!

Raw pack:

ElevationProcessing Time
0-1,000 feet25 minutes
1,001 - 3,000 feet30 minutes
3,001 - 6,000 feet35 minutes
** Processing time stays the same for both quarts and pints.

Hot pack:

ElevationProcessing Time
0-1,000 feet20 minutes
1,001 - 3,000 feet25 minutes
3,001 - 6,000 feet30 minutes
** If using a pint jar, decrease processing time by 5 minutes.

Don't Toss The Pits And Stems

You're going to have a few stems and pits leftover after this process, as well as some discarded fruit due to bruises and mold. This doesn't all have to go into the trash!

The easiest way to deal with your cherry pits, stems, and discarded fruit is to toss them into your COMPOST BUCKET, bin, or pile. Though the pits may take a while to break down, they certainly won't harm your plants or garden in the meantime!

Some people actually keep the pits and make CHERRY PIT LIQUEUR!

How To Use Canned Cherries

  • Add your canned cherries to milkshakes for a delicious cherry shake
  • Pour the juice into a saucepan and simmer down before adding the juice and cherries to a pie
  • Use them to top your homemade ice cream!
  • Mix them with peaches in a peach cherry crisp or cobbler

More Preserving Recipes

Water Bath Canner: I have and LOVE an All-American Canner. Yes, it's a pressure canner, but it doubles as a water bather too! The 925 model is a beast, she can handle whatever I toss her way! If you're new to canning and not sure you'll love it, there are some really reasonably priced water bath canners out there too.

Mason Jars: Mason jars are an investment, but they'll last you for years and years with proper care and maintenance. I have some Improved GEM jars that are so old, you wouldn't believe me if I told you they've been through 5 generations of canners and still work great!

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📖 Printable Recipe

Two jars of canned cherries.
Yield: 2 quart sized jars

Canned Cherries

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes

Canning can be a fun and easy way to preserve your favorite fruit for the winter. However, it can be hard to know where to start when you're trying to can cherries for the first time. To help guide you through this process, we've put together a step-by-step guide that will take the mystery out of canned cherries! We'll show you how simple it is to make your own cans of fresh sweet cherries in no time! Get started today by following our easy steps below!

Ingredients

  • 3 lbs fresh, ripe cherries
  • 2 1/4 cups granulated sugar
  • 5 1/4 cups water

Instructions

Raw pack:

  1. Wash and sterilize your jars. Fill a large water bath canner with water and begin heating it over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and pit fresh cherries. They can be left whole or halved, depending on your desired outcome. Set aside.
  3. Combine water and sugar in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Prepare sterilized jars by placing them on a heat-proof surface.
  5. Add a cup or so of syrup to the jars before packing them with cherries, leaving 1 inch of headspace.
  6. Top off the jars with hot syrup, leaving 1/2" headspace.
  7. Wipe rims and cover with a lid. Tighten the rings finger tight.
  8. Carefully lower the jars into the boiling water bath and process at a rolling boil. See chart below for timing depending on elevation.

Hot Pack:

  1. Wash and sterilize your jars. Fill a large water bath canner with water and begin heating it over high heat.
  2. Meanwhile, wash and pit fresh cherries. They can be left whole or halved, depending on your desired outcome. Set aside.
  3. Combine water, sugar, and cherries in a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium heat, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Prepare sterilized jars by placing them on a heat-proof surface.
  5. Fill the jars with the heated cherry mixture, leaving 1/2" headspace.
  6. Wipe rims and cover with a lid. Tighten the rings finger tight.
  7. Carefully lower the jars into the boiling water bath and process at a rolling boil. See chart below for timing depending on elevation.

Notes

Batch information:


This recipe as written yields 2 quart (1L) jars, it can easily be halved, doubled, or more.

Storage information:

Raw packed cherries may discolor after 3 or so months. Hot-packed cherries will maintain their color for up to 12 months.

processing times

Raw pack:

Elevation / Processing Time
0-1,000 feet / 25 minutes
1,001 - 3,000 feet / 30 minutes
3,001 - 6,000 feet / 35 minutes
** Processing time stays the same for both quarts and pints.

Hot pack:

Elevation / Processing Time
0-1,000 feet / 20 minutes
1,001 - 3,000 feet / 25 minutes
3,001 - 6,000 feet / 30 minutes
** If using a pint jar, decrease processing time by 5 minutes.

pit cherries without a cherry pitter

Using a cherry pitter is nice, but if you don't have one there are other options!

  • Place the cherry stem side up on an empty beer bottle and using a stainless steel straw, chopstick, or kebob stick, punch through the top of the cherry and the pit will fall into the beer bottle below.
  • Use a small pairing knife and cut the cherries in half to remove the pit.


Nutrition Information:

Yield:

16

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 3mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 2gSugar: 39gProtein: 1g

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