Written by Cheryl of Backseat Gourmet
My Baba was the canning and preserving queen. It wasn’t a fun, retro thing for her. It was about survival. And survival meant more than enough food to make it through the winter. It also meant a little bit of sunshine on a cold, harsh winter’s day on the Prairies. For her, that sunshine came in the form of canned fruit.
Her root cellar was filled with more than enough food for two people and any visitors. On one special shelf were jars of jams, obviously, but also jars of canned berries and cherries that grew in her garden. With a significant sweet tooth Baba’s fruit was more like an excellent pancake syrup.
I’ve adapted her canned fruit concept and lightened things up. I’ve also added more fruits to my repertoire, and taken some out. Canned strawberries are actually quite mushy, so I prefer alternative methods of preserving their goodness long term. Now I take advantage of the stone fruit that comes out of British Columbia, our neighbouring province.
Sure, you can make loads of jam with all those peaches, apricots, cherries, and plums. But a girl can only eat so much toast. Of late, I’ve really been enjoying the whole fruit in a light syrup. Cracked open in January, spooned on ice cream or oatmeal, or eaten straight, they are indeed a taste of summer sunshine.
(all photos by Cheryl)
This method does not cook the cherries before canning. I prefer the firmness of the canned cherries so I skip the pre-cooking. If you would like a softer cherry, cook the cherries with the water and sugar for 5 minutes before proceeding with canning steps.
This recipe is also focuses on sweet, rather than sour cherries. Sour cherries are great for pie filling, but not eating straight up.
(Please refer to our post on canning/preserving basics to get the low down on sterilization and cleanliness in the preserving process.)
- 2 pounds sweet cherries (Rainier, Bing, or other sweet variety)
- 4 cups water
- 1 1/2 cup – 2 cups sugar
- vanilla beans, almond extract (optional)
1. Wash and pit your cherries. You can use a cherry pitter or simply cut the cherries in half to remove the pit. Do this over a large bowl to capture any juices.
2. Combine the water and sugar in a large saucepan. Stir and bring to a boil to dissolve the sugar. Keep hot (but not boiling) while you prep your jars.
3. Ensure your jars are clean, sterilized, and hot. (Adding hot syrup to a cold jar may cause the jar to shatter!) With clean hands, stuff as many cherries as you can into each jar. How many you get in each jar will depend on the size of the jar and cherry. I managed to get about 16-20 Rainier cherries in each 250 mL jar. Fill to 2 cm below the rim.
4. If you want to add vanilla to your cherries, cut some 1 inch pieces of whole vanilla bean. Add to the desired jars. Alternatively, you could add a drop or two of almond extract to the cherries.
5. Fill each jar with the hot syrup, stopping 1 cm from the rim of the jar. With a clean, hot, wet cloth, wipe the rims of the jars and place the sealers and lids on top. Tighten with your hands.
6. Process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
7. Remove from the water bath, let cool, and listen for the pops. To let the full flavours develop let the jars rest a few weeks before digging in. Of course, refrigerate any jars that do not seal and enjoy immediately.
What is your favourite way to preserve the sunshine?