Well I finally had a chance to sit down and show ya'll what I did with all my cherries. And by did, I mean how I processed them. I haven't made a cherry pie just yet, that's gonna happen later today and then I will show ya'll how I did that as well.
Now lest get back to the cherries. Aren't they beautiful lookin' cherries!
To start with strain all the juice from the cherries and place it in another bowl and set aside to be used later.
We're gonna start with the quick and easy way of putting cherries away...
...we're gonna freeze them. If all you're gonna do is make cherry pie's then this is probably the best way to do them, cause it's extremely easy and quick to do.
The thing I love about all freezer bags is they have their little white strips on them so you can write on them. Not that I couldn't figure out that they were cherries, but so that you can write the year on them that way you can know how long they've been sittin' in your freezer.
Ok, so this is the way that I freeze most of my fruit.
I will drain all the juice off of them and then spread them out on all my baking pans, now just place them in your freezer.
Now I have a huge deep-freeze with tons of space (for now, give me a year or two more and it will probably be full) so I can place all these pans in there at one time. If you don't have the space that I have then do what you have the space to do.
Once they become solid little cherry ice cubes pull the pans out and start puttin' them into bags.
Once you have them in the bags get as much air out of the bags as you can (so you don't get any freezer burn),close them up and just throw them in the freezer and your done.
Ok, now for the little bit longer process. This requires me to get my canner out of the garage where it has been resting for the past winter months and dust it off.
I wouldn't have thought to do this, but Pop said that he was eating canned cherries every morning and loved them. Since the cherry tree we raided was his we (Caleb's sisters and I) thought we had better give some of our cherries to him. Also he has gout and cherries are one of the things he can eat and they are supposed to be good for gout. So that got me thinkin' I have a canner and tons of jars I bet it wouldn't be too hard to can them. And even though there are a lot of pictures and what seems like a lot of steps it's really not hard at all.
So first get everything you will need: Canner, Clean Jars, Jar Lids and Rings.
Now pull your huge tub of cherries out from where ever you have been hiding them and start scooping up cherries.
If you are going to can fruits, vegetables, or whatever a jar funnel is a must. They are pretty easy to find where ever you buy your canning supplies from. In fact they often come in a kit with a lot of other things that you would need to help you make your canning experience easier.
When filling the jars you might want to squish the cherries down into the jar some cause this way when the process is done you will have a lot more of the fruit in the jar and not too much juice.
So just pack them in there together, they won't mind.
Once you have all your jars full of cherries it's time to make the yummy syrup.
Remember that cherry juice I told you to set aside for later, well now it's later and we are going to use it.
Before you use the juice you will probably need to strain it to get all the big particles of whatever out of it. I just sent it through some cheese cloth and that worked great. If you are like me and have no idea where to get cheese cloth...look in the craft section at Wal-Mart. I found it by accident there and was so happy! Now if you are one of those people who are anti Wal-Mart then I can't help ya. I don't have many other options out here in SE Kansas so Wal-Mart and I are good friends.
Ok back to the syrup and your freshly strained cherry juice.
For this batch we are going to use 4 1/2 cups of sugar and 4 1/2 cups of juice (this was enough for about 12 pints of cherries) If you don't have enough juice you can substitute water for the juice. It's simply one part sugar, one part juice or water.
Now this is the heavy syrup and should be be used on tart cherries if you are going to can sweeter cherries then I would recommend that you cut the sugar back.
Now dump both the juice and the sugar into a pot and place it on the stove. Cook over medium to high heat and stir constantly till it starts to boil. Remove from heat.
You will probably have some of this scum (as my mom calls it) on the top of your syrup and you don't want that in you cherries so just use a spoon and skim off as much as you can.
Just stick it into a bowl and dump it out later.
Now while the syrup is still hot get you funnel and a ladle and start adding the syrup to the jars of cherries. Filling them just to the top of your cherries.
While that's goin' on get your jar lids and place them into a small pan of water and then stick them on the stove over low heat and let them simmer (don't let boil).
All this is on the back of the box that the lids came in, incase you forget.
While they are simmering take a damp cloth or paper towel and wipe the ring of each of the jars. This is to make sure that you have a good clean surface for the lids to seal to.
Now pull your lids out one at a time and place them on a jar.
A magnet is the best way to do this so you don't burn your fingers. That kit that the funnel comes in all should have a stick magnet which makes this process a lot easier. I didn't have one last summer when I did all my canning and I had to use a fridge magnet, it worked for the time, but now I have the stick one and I am a happier person.
Right after you put the lids on secure them with the rings.
From here on its optional how you do the rest of the processing. I have a pressure canner and love it. I grew up helping my mom can this way, so this is what I know. If you don't have a pressure cooker there are other options. You can do what’s call a 'cold pack' or a 'hot water bath', I really don't know much about these methods because I don't use them but I know what I have heard from others is that they work.
Once you have the jars in put the lid on a close it. Make sure you have that little jigger thing over the steam hole on the back of lid other wise you won't get any pressure.
Now place it on the stove over high heat.
Once the pressure builds to 5 lbs (which doesn't take very long), reduce heat to medium and set the timer for 8 minutes.
Side note: on my stove I have to have it just a notch above medium to hold the pressure for those 8 minutes.
Once your timer goes off turn the stove of and let it cool until the pressure goes down to zero.
Once it has cooled remove the jars using your jar tongs (which also usually come in those kits), and place the jars on a heat tolerant surface.
Lay some towels down if ya need something to set them on, that's what I did.
Now just sit back and listen the music as the jars make this beautiful ping sound as they seal.
Go back and check them later to see if they have sealed by pushing on the middle of the lid. If it doesn't move then it sealed. If it didn't get sealed then you stick in the fridge and eat that jar first.
Whew, I'm worn out now. I am never gonna touch a cherry again, well at least no until later this afternoon, cause I thought it would be a good idea to go and pick some more cherries yesterday, so I get to do it all over again. I think I must be going crazy.
From the Crazy Cherry Lovin' Lady in KS With Love!