When cherry season is in full swing it is time to take advantage of the bounty and CAN. These little jars are wonderful with a cheese platter, in a cocktail or on ice cream for a different flavor profile. You can also add pickled cherries to a pork chop dinner for a tangy pop of summer flavor. I like to can in small 4 oz. jars as I think of the user-end. How much will I need when eating? A quart or pint is large – maybe too much to eat within one week of opening. A 4 oz. jar is the ideal size for me.
You will need clean 4 oz or pint jars and closures, a boiling-water canner, rack, jar lifter, canning funnel, and wooden skewer.
TIP: Buy spices at the bulk foods aisles and get exactly what you need. Save money without buying entire jars of spices that you may never finish using. My go-to bulk spice stores are Whole Foods and Winco. They have a nice selection and high spice turnover.
TIP: This recipe calls for “canning and pickling salt”. I highly recommend you seek out this salt as, unlike regular salt, it is free of anti-caking agents, which can cause the pickling liquid to turn cloudy, and iodine, which can darken the cherries. You can find pickling salt at some grocers or order online at Amazon. Whenever I see it, I always pick up a box and it keeps forever in my pantry.
Preservation method: Waterbath canning
Difficulty level: Easy
Makes about 7 half-pint jars or 12-14 4 oz jars
2 1/2 cups white vinegar (5% acidity)
2 cups sugar 2 tbsp. canning and pickling salt
1 vanilla bean
7 whole cloves
7 star anise
7 cinnamon sticks
2 1/2 lb fresh dark, sweet cherries, washed and pitted
Place rack in the bottom of a boiling water canner, then place empty jars on the rack. Add water to the jars and the canner until the jars are about two-thirds full. Cover the canner and bring the water to a simmer over medium heat. Place lids in a small saucepan, cover with water, and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Do not boil. Keep lids hot until ready to use.
Stir together vinegar, sugar, and pickling salt in a medium stainless steel saucepan. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean, add seeds and bean to vinegar mixture. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar and salt dissolve.
Place one clove, one star anise, and one cinnamon stick into a hot jar (cut cinnamon sticks if need be to fit). Pack cherries tightly into jar, leaving 1/2″ headspace. Remove vanilla bean from pan and discard. Ladle hot pickling liquid over cherries, leaving 1/2″ inch headspace. Remove air bubbles.
Apply lids and bands and adjust until fingertip tight. Place jars in boiling water canner.
When all jars are in the canner, adjust the water level in the canner so that it covers the jars by at least one inch. Cover the canner with a lid and bring water to a full rolling boil over high heat. Once the water is boiling hard and continuously, begin counting the processing time of 10 minutes (4 oz jars or pint jars).
Once 10 minutes is complete, turn off heat and let jars sit in canner an additional five minutes (this standing time allows the pressure inside the jars to stabilize and reduces the likelihood of liquid loss that could otherwise occur when the jars are removed.)
Remove jars and place on a kitchen towel-lined space. The towel will help reduce the chance of jar breakage. Do not dry the lids or jars at this point. You do not want to disturb the lids while the seals are being formed. Allow jars to cool for 24 hours before removing bands and wiping down jars. Date jars and store in a cool dry place for up to one year.
Recipe from The All New Ball Book of Canning and Preserving, 2016.