Cherries are in season right now and they taste sooo fabulously sweet and juicy. A way to enjoy them also in the fall and winter months is to can them in syrup or in whiskey. In the fall I will share a Belgian classic made with cherries in syrup so I made a few jars. Check out my does and don’t about canning and my sweet and boozy versions.
CANNING PROCESS – this preserving technique has been around for a looooong time. It consists of submerging in a water bath fruit or vegetables in sterilized glass jar in order to seal the jars so they can be stored somewhere dark and cool so you can eat them when out of growing season . Today this is no longer practiced much in contemporary households as we can get any fruit, any veg at any time and anywhere ( sniff for the environment). As I eat only seasonal produce, fresh is limiting in the cold winter months so I want to try my hand at canning fruits and vegetables to enjoy than. I always make jam ( they never last till winter as I keep eating them and giving them away ) but I could kill for a cherry in January! So I try …
There are different processes depending on how long you wish to store the jars before opening.
- up to 2 weeks to a month: top fruit or veg with liquid and seal the jars by turning them upside down, pulling it vacuum. ( see recipes below)
- up to 2 months to a year: top fruit or veg with liquid or fill with prepared food like tomato sauce. Add closed jars to a canning pot with water and boil. How long to boil the filled jars for depends on what you are canning. Once removed from the boiling water with special thongs, they will cool. Any oxygen left in them will escape and the lid will concave and therefor seal.
You can buy a special canning pot but any deep, stainless steel or enameled, non reactive pot will do like a stock pot. For the serious canners ( is that a word?) the canning pot kits are handy however. They come with a rack in the bottom of the pot and some easy-grab tools. I got my eye on this set from Wallmart. I first have to find space to store my canned goods apart from the fridge I have no cool and dark spot in my home. I am looking into remodeling my tiny storage unit in the basement and install a large fridge there. So that might work. to be continued.
Pressure canning heats the food at a higher temperature with pressurized steam hotter than the boiling water. It is recommended to use water bath canning for high-acid foods and pressure canning for low-acid foods.
JARS – Now what jars should you use? You are green and want to reuse recycled jars of mayonnaise or other store-bought goods. You may do so but not for pressured bathwater canning, they may explode as they may not be high temperature resistant. I recommend you use them for jams and chutneys which don’t require canning at all.
Best for canning is mason jar type with a stainless steel screw lid with seal. A weck jar with rubber seal and clips or clasp ( like i used) are perfectly fine too for water bath and pressured canning.
Lessons learned! So I messed up when selecting my jars, I wanted it to look nice in the pictures and I chose different sizes jars with a clap and rubber seal . Not only can I not can the jars together at the same time as they were falling all over in my stock pot. But also storing and stacking them has also proven not easy due to the clips.
CHERRIES – in Belgium you traditionally find the sour cherries canned in syrup but you can of course use the sweet cherries as well. Bare in mind cherries are part of “the dirty dozen” ( TIME article HERE ), cherries get their fair share of pesticides. This means I recommend you buy as organic as possible to avoid canning well, … pesticides.
STEP 1: Clean, remove stems and pit of the cherries. I got this special tool at Dille & Kamille ( HERE) and it was super easy and fast.
STEP 2: After sterilizing the jars, fill them with cherries to about 0.5 cm from the rim. You can sterilize jars in passing them through the hot cycle in the dishwasher, boiling them in hot water for 10 minutes or adding them a pre-heated over at 100 C for 20 minutes.
STEP 3: Add the sugar, spices and water in pan and boil . For the whiskey-soaked cherries, add the whiskey after. Leave the liquid to cool a little before filling the jars to about 1 cm from the rim covering all cherries. Close the lid and turn them up side down this will vacuum them. For softer fruit add the cherries to the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes and than transfer to jars, don’t simmer to long as you will get jam versus fruit in syrup.
STEP 4: If you wish to can the cherries for longer preservation than add the filled jars in a canning/stock pot filled with water. Boil for 10 minutes and remove.
STEP 5: store in a cool and dark spot.
My canned cherries
- 500 gr cherries: washed pitted and stems removed
- 125 ml water
- 100 gr sugar
- spices by choice: cinnamon, orange peel, ginger, nutmeg
- 250 ml whiskey for the boozy version
- Place the pitted cherries in sterilized jars.
- Add to a saucepan water, sugar and spices and whisk until dissolved. Stir occasionally till mixture reaches a simmer. Let simmer for 10 minutes.
- Strain the mixture is needed depending on spices used. Add the whiskey and stir to combine. For the virgin version, got to step 4. Alternatively if you prefer softer cherries you can add the cherries to the mixture and simmer for 10 minutes.
- Let the mixture cool and pour over the cherries. Close the lids, turn them upside down and store.
on www.leeksandhighheels.com by Sandra Slawinski