How to Can Homemade Cherry Pie Filling


* This article contains affiliate links. For more information, please read my Affiliate Disclosure.

 

 

Cherry pie is a sweet summer treat. But you can just as easily preserve it for enjoyment all year long! Here is a super easy (and tasty) recipe for canning cherry pie filling at home.Of all the pies in the world, cherry pie is my favourite. A piece of cherry pie fresh out of the oven with a scoop of vanilla ice cream is pure bliss.

I don’t even live in the U.S., but there’s something “All-American” about cherry pie to me. It reminds me of the beginning of summer and fireworks and the 4th of July. It’s comforting and down-home and I absolutely LOVE a piece of sweet cherry pie on a warm summer night.

Then again, I also love it in the middle of winter;)

As much as cherry pie is totally a summer treat, the beauty of home-canning is that it’s possible to preserve all of the beautiful fruits of the season to enjoy later. And in the dead of winter, anything that reminds me that summer was not just a figment of my imagination is more than welcome around here!

Now, if you’re not comfortable canning, you can always freeze this cherry pie filling and then defrost and use later. But this recipe is seriously easy to can at home and I would always rather can than freeze if possible as I can guarantee my food will be shelf stable and won’t go bad if the power goes out (which happened last year and thawed out all my frozen cherries, which I then ended up having to can anyway to salvage them).

 

Related: Perfect Homemade Flaky Pie Crust Recipe

 

Also, I like to be able to just open a jar and use it right away without having to wait for it to thaw. And, well, let’s just say I like having the option of eating the pie filling straight out of the jar with a spoon! Don’t judge. Once you try it you’ll understand:)

Cherry pie is a sweet summer treat. But you can just as easily preserve it for enjoyment all year long! Here is a super easy (and tasty) recipe for canning cherry pie filling at home.

And speaking of eating it with a spoon, there are other ways to enjoy this pie filling aside from in a traditional pie and right out of the jar. You could make a cherry crumble (which is super easy and requires no prep time for pie crust). Or you could eat it over cheesecake or ice cream or yogurt or oatmeal… So many possibilities! 

However you choose to enjoy it, you really can’t go wrong by having some of this pie filling on hand. Having jars of any type of pie filling in your pantry is also a huge time saver if you’re having company or need to throw together a quick dessert for any reason. You can still say it’s made from scratch , but you will save tons of time when making your dessert if you already have the filling prepared and ready to go!

It also makes a great gift for Christmas or for a housewarming gift. You can add a pretty label to it and gift it on its own or you can mix up the dry ingredients needed for pie crust or for a crumble topping and attach a recipe with it to give as a “gift set.” You can’t go wrong either way!

 

Related: How to Can Blueberry Pie Filling

 

So what do you need to can your own cherry pie filling? 

One thing you will definitely need to can any pie filling successfully (and ensure the quality stands the test of time) is a product called Clear-Jel. Clear-Jel basically takes the place of cornstarch or flour in pie filling recipes; It is used to thicken the mixture so that it holds together and doesn’t make your pie runny and liquidy. But Clear-Jel is better suited for canning as it does not degrade over time. Flour and cornstarch can both end up clumping together and ruining the consistency and quality of your pie filling. I use Hoosier Hill Farm Clear-Jel and have always had perfect pie filling, even after a year or more of sitting in the pantry. 

Cherry pie is a sweet summer treat. But you can just as easily preserve it for enjoyment all year long! Here is a super easy (and tasty) recipe for canning cherry pie filling at home.

Since cherries are an acidic fruit (and since we are also adding some lemon juice), you can safely water-bath can cherry pie filling. Water-bath canning simply means you need to process your jars in a boiling hot water bath in order to kill any bacteria and ensure the jars seal. It’s really simple and you technically don’t even need a proper canner to do it. You could just use a regular large pot as long as you put something in the bottom of it to be used as a rack (even some rolled up kitchen towels will work). 

If you do opt for a canner, I would recommend forgoing the water-bath canner and just getting a pressure canner. Then you have the option of water-bath or pressure canning instead of needing a different canner for each. I personally like the All-American pressure canner. But I also like the Presto pressure canner for a little bit cheaper option. The Presto is a good in-between as it is more functional than a water-bath canner but not a lot more expensive. 

I have an old All-American as well as another older pressure canner that were handed down to me by family members. I’m not sure of the brand of the other one, but it’s very similar in style and functionality to the Presto and for water-bath canning it works great! I will be testing it out this year for pressure canning so we shall see! 

Aside from maybe having a canner, I would definitely recommend some jar lifters. You can buy these for super cheap here on Amazon or at your local kitchen supply store. They are well worth the few dollars they cost and will go a long way toward protecting your hands from scolding water when lifting jars in and out of the canner or pot. They also provide really good grip so you’re not worried about the glass jars slipping and breaking.

I also use this special canning scoop and funnel to help me get my pie filling into my jars without making a total mess everywhere. My funnel is also a measuring tool so I don’t have to guess how much headspace I have in my jars. Headspace is important as it allows air to escape from the jars to create a tight seal. Each recipe calls for a different amount of headspace, so I like having the measurements right on my funnel so I don’t need to estimate or get a ruler out.

Cherry pie is a sweet summer treat. But you can just as easily preserve it for enjoyment all year long! Here is a super easy (and tasty) recipe for canning cherry pie filling at home.

This is the canning funnel that I use. It allows me to accurately measure the headspace while filling my jars so I don’t have to guess!

You will obviously need jars, lids and bands as well.

I usually find most of my jars at thrift stores for super cheap when it’s not canning season and stash them away until I need them. Just make sure to check your jars for knicks and cracks (I have personally lost a jar of cherry pie filling that exploded in the canner because there was a small crack in the jar that I didn’t notice!)

You can reuse bands as well, but make sure you only use new lids. Once lids have been used to seal jars once, they are not safe to use again as they are not meant to seal more than once. I keep my old lids to store dry goods and non-food items in Mason jars, but when I’m canning at home I always use new lids.

As for the process of canning, it’s super simple and safe, but it is important to follow directions exactly (at least until you understand exactly how canning works and what is safe and what is not). Because you are preserving food without any freezing or refrigeration, it’s important to make sure you don’t cut corners or try to get too creative with recipes because it could affect the safety and stability of your end product.

As long as you stick to a trusted recipe and process your jars in boiling water for the time specified in the directions, you have nothing to worry about. Canning itself is very safe as long as you follow best practices according to up-to-date guidelines.

The recipe I use (and have included here) is adapted from my “canning bible” The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving. I can’t stress enough how much I LOVE this book. I’ve tried at least a couple dozen recipes in here and they are all really good! And Ball pretty much sets the standard for safe home canning, so nothing to worry about when you’re following their recipes.

I did adapt this recipe slightly as I didn’t have enough cherries to make up the 10 lbs the book called for. But I kept all important ratios the same. I also added a little more cinnamon, but cinnamon is completely optional.

As for the cherries, to pit them I just use a toothpick that I insert where the stem meets the cherry and I run the toothpick along the outside of the pit to loosen it and then pop it out. You can also buy a cherry pitter like this and it will definitely speed things up, but the toothpick method has always worked just fine for me. Maybe one day I’ll invest the $10 or so a cherry pitter costs:)

Cherry pie is a sweet summer treat. But you can just as easily preserve it for enjoyment all year long! Here is a super easy (and tasty) recipe for canning cherry pie filling at home.

We have a cherry tree in our backyard so we used about 5 lbs of our own cherries to make this pie filling. But you can use any cherries you like. Of course, if you use tart cherries, your pie filling will be more tart, and if you use sweet cherries it will be sweeter. But neither one is better or worse than the other. Just use whatever cherries you have. I guarantee it will be amazing either way, and you’ll be eating it with a spoon too before long;)

 

Cherry pie is a sweet summer treat. But you can just as easily preserve it for enjoyment all year long! Here is a super easy (and tasty) recipe for canning cherry pie filling at home.

How to Can Homemade Cherry Pie Filling

Yield: about 4 pint jars or 2 quart jars

Ingredients

  • 5 lbs pitted cherries (you can use fresh or frozen and then thawed)
  • 1 ¾ cup sugar
  • ½ cup Clear-Jel
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice (only use the store-bought kind for canning as it is guaranteed to have the correct level of acidity)

Instructions

  1. Place cherries in a colander or sieve over a large bowl and allow them to drain until you've collected 4 cups of juice (this is sometimes easier to do with cherries that have been frozen and then thawed). Set cherries and liquid aside.
  2. Prepare canner, jars and lids.
  3. Whisk together 2 cups of the cherry liquid, sugar, ClearJel and cinnamon. Bring mixture to a boil over medium-high heat stirring constantly until it begins to bubble.
  4. Add lemon juice and continue to boil for another minute, stirring constantly. Then add cherries and return to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and being careful not to mash up cherries too much.
  5. Remove hot jars from canner one at a time and ladle hot pie filling into each one, leaving one inch headspace at the top. Remove any air bubbles with a knife and adjust headspace if needed.
  6. Wipe rim, place lid on jar and screw band down until fingertip tight.
  7. Place jars in canner and make sure they're completely submerged in water before placing the canner lid on. Bring water to a boil and process jars for 35 minutes. Once processing time is up, turn off the heat, remove the canner lid and allow jars to rest in the canner for another 5 minutes.
  8. Remove jars and let cool completely before storing in a cool dark place.

CATEGORIES
HOMESTEADING
REAL FOOD
NATURAL LIVING

21 Comments

  1. RJ Fitch

    This recipe was awesome enough that I had to make it a point to come back and say as much. My Montmorency sour cherry tree produced abundantly this year (33 pounds!) and I needed ways to use all of it the best ways possible. The extra 4 cups of cherry juice (I made two batches) worked out great for making cherry jelly. I made a pie with one of the jars a couple of days ago and it was fantastic! One thing; there was note in a response here that said it made “2 or 3 quart jars”. I came up with 2 quarts and maybe ¼ cup extra. Regardless, terrific recipe, Anna!

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      So glad you enjoyed it! This is one of my favourite ways to use cherries too, and honestly one of my favourite canning recipes in general!

      I do say 2 or 3 quarts because I have found that it can vary. Sometimes I end up with just a little over a quart (like you did), and other times I have ended up with almost 3 quarts. So I always prepare an extra jar just so that I’m ready with it on hand. Then I just refrigerate the extra and eat it right away:) You could also prepare an extra pint jar or two and can the extra if you have at least a pint extra, or do all pint jars (double the amount of jars if you do). But I find a quart jar is exactly enough to make a 9” pie.

      If you’re in need of more ways to preserve cherries, this recipe for Amaretto Cherry Preserves is another one of my faves:)

      Reply
  2. Pat

    What kind of cherries did you use? Tart or Sweet?

    Reply
    • Tish Painter

      Hi Pat,
      Anna’s recipe here used sour/tart cherries. Technically most recipes allow you use either type of cherries without any difference in measurements. However, if you have sweet cherries and don’t wish it to be too sweet, Anna says to reduce the sugar to 1-1/4 cup and increase the lemon juice to 3 Tbsp. That should give you a similar product to hers.
      I hope that helps!

      Reply
  3. Francie

    The 5lbs of cherries this calls for, is the weight for pre frozen or post frozen? Pre pitted or post pitted?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      5 lbs. pitted cherries. They should be the same weight whether they’re fresh or frozen, however this is the weight before you drain the juices out.

      Reply
  4. K

    Is clear gel
    Other wise known as gelatine?

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      No, Clear Gel is a different product made from a modified corn starch. It is used as a thickener in pie fillings but isn’t as thick as gelatine. You can purchase Clear Gel here: https://amzn.to/2MOffei (affiliate link)

      Reply
      • Connie

        You ask to collect 4 cups of juice but the recipe only calls for 2 cups. What happened to the other 2 cups?

        Reply
        • Anna Sakawsky

          Hi Connie,
          You must collect 4 cups of liquid but then you only use half of that in the cherry pie filling otherwise there will be too much liquid. I usually just drink the rest or use it to flavour kombucha or homemade lemonade. You could also use it to make jelly. This recipe is adapted from the Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving, which specifies the same.

          Reply
  5. Jen

    Anna, how does one drain liquid from fresh cherries? A quick search did not reveal the answers to me. I figure juicing the cherries will just pulverize them. Squeezing them doesn’t seem quite right. I agree that frozen/thawed would be a good way to go about it, but i have fresh picked cherries in front of me.

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Jen,

      I’m trying to remember now if I have done this with fresh cherries, and I want to say I have. For the past couple years though I have thrown my cherries in the freezer first and canned them later, and once you freeze them and thaw them the juice just drips out and collects in a bowl beneath if you put them in a colander over a bowl.

      I just double checked the Ball recipe that I adapted this one from and it also recommends freezing first. I also wondered about the juice draining on its own when I first made this recipe but if you leave them long enough you will see the juice just naturally starts to drain out.

      I would recommend freezing first (just overnight is fine) and letting them thaw out and drain. I will have to try this recipe again with fresh cherries to test how well they drain and will report back when I do. But just to be sure this time around I can definitely assure you the juice will drain out if they are frozen first and then thawed.

      I hope that helps! Let me know how it goes.

      Reply
      • Jen

        thank you! very helpful. I can’t wait to try!

        Reply
  6. roger thompson

    How many jars does this make? It says reserve 4 cups but only uses 2 cups, am I missing something?

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Hi Roger,

      This recipe will make 2 or 3 quart jars (I often find I get two quart jars and end up with almost another quart, which I then use right away in a pie or a crumble). You could always use pints instead and you should get 5 or 6 pints out of each batch.

      As for the cups of cherry liquid, drain 4 cups of liquid out of the cherries so they’re not too “watery.” It just helps to preserve the integrity of the cherries, if that makes sense. But only add 2 cups of liquid back in when making the pie filling because all 4 cups will be too thin and watery. You want the pie filling to be fairly thick.

      I hope that answers your questions!

      Reply
      • Daina Harper

        I also end up adding a little bit more than the 2 cups so that I can get the consistency I like:) you never need all 4 cups but sometimes I end up using 3.

        Reply
  7. Dr. Alina Marcu

    Great tips. I will try this definitely. It reminds me of mommy’s recipes

    Reply
  8. Emma Dawn

    I’m going to start following your blog because I have been wanting to get into canning certain things. That way I can enjoy yummies all year round

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Awesome! Canning is sort of a lost art these days, but it’s definitely making a comeback. More people are wanting to be more involved with where their food comes from as well as what’s in it. Growing and preserving your own food (or at least preserving fresh, organic local food when it’s in season) is a huge step in the right direction.

      Thanks for reading!

      Reply
  9. Kimberley

    This post made me so so hungry! I’ve always just used all up all of munch pie filling in one go and never thought about canning it so thank you for the tips I’ll have to try this next time I make pie ?? – http://www.teaisawishyourheartmakes.wordpress.com

    Reply
    • Anna Sakawsky

      Absolutely! It’s so easy to do too, and such a huge time-saver to have it ready to dump out of a jar if you need to fix a quick dessert.

      Reply

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ABOUT ANNA
Hi! I’m Anna, and I’m a city girl turned modern homesteader who’s passionate about growing, cooking and preserving real food at home, creating my own herbal medicine and all-natural home and body care products, and working toward a simpler, more sustainable and self-sufficient life each and every day. 
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I hope you had a wonderful and restful end of holidays, and are also feeling ready to get back on track with your daily schedule here in the new year. It can sometimes feel like a lot to get going, but those "regular days" help us to regulate our rhythms, and in turn help us slowly, gear up for the Spring season ahead. ⁣

In our Winter Issue of Modern Homesteading Magazine, my friend and fellow homesteader, Ashley Constance of @alittleselfreliant wrote "Breaking Your Cabin Fever" a list of ideas for staying productive over the winter months. ⁣

If you're feeling a bit restless and up to it, this list of ideas is a perfect way to get back into a daily routine. ⁣

From making and creating, to preparing, planning and organizing you'll be feeling ready for Spring in no time. ⁣

To see the full list, subscribe to Modern Homesteading Magazine here at https://modernhomesteadingmagazine.com/subscribe/ or visit the link in my bio.
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