Summer Canning Series: Cherry Pie Filling Recipe

Written by Megan of Stetted.

Now that we’ve covered a few of the basics of canning, I wanted to move on to one of my favorite things to can in the summertime: pie filling.

I adore pie, but my family doesn’t need pie weekly. All too frequently my pie cravings hit in the dead of winter, when it’s hard to get good, fresh ingredients for pie. Those cans of filling from the grocery store just don’t cut it for me, so I’ve taken to making my own pie fillings from fresh peaches and apples when they come in season.

This year I decided to expand my pie filling stash to include cherries, thanks to a stock-up sale our local store had recently. Pie filling is quite easy to put up and requires only a few ingredients.

As in jam, the fruit is cooked slightly before packing into jars. Blanching the fruit helps soften it and allows you to pack more into the jar. The trick is to get as much fruit as possible into the jar – too much liquid and not enough fruit will result in a soggy pie when you pop the seal months down the road. Cherries pack into jars fairly easily, but you can use a wooden spoon handle to press the fruit down and remove any trapped air bubbles.

Like many other canning recipes, this calls for lemon juice. Bottled lemon juice is recommended rather than fresh juice; pH levels are very important in canning and bottled juice has more consistent pH.

Cherries
Photo by Megan

Spiced Cherry Pie Filling
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Recipe type: Preserves
Author:
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves/Yield: 1 quart
Makes 1 quart, enough for a standard 9-inch pie
Ingredients
  • 4 cups cherries
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3 Tablespoons Clear Jel or cornstarch*
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 2 Tablespoons lemon juice
Instructions
  1. Fill your water-bath canner with water and set to boiling. Make sure your jars are sanitized and heated.
  2. Wash and pit the cherries. In a large nonreactive pot filled with boiling water, blanch the cherries for a minute, then drain. Pour the hot cherries into a bowl and cover.
  3. In the same pot, mix together sugar and Clear Jel. Slowly add the water, whisking to help Clear Jel dissolve evenly. Don’t worry too much if it clumps up - it should dissolve as it heats up. Add the spices and heat over medium-high, until sugar and Clear Jel are dissolved and mixture is starting to bubble. Add the lemon juice and boil for about a minute.
  4. Remove from heat and gently stir in cherries and any accumulated juices. Pour filling into prepared jar(s), wipe rim and set lid on top. Screw ring on finger-tight, and using a jar grabber carefully lower the jar into the water bath.
  5. Process for 30 to 40 minutes. Remove and let rest on the counter until completely cooled. Any jars that have not sealed should be refrigerated and used promptly.
Notes
* Note that the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends Clear Jel for pie fillings. Clear Jel is a modified cornstarch that reduces spoilage in canned products and is available online. Many people are comfortable with going outside the USDA guidelines, which is why I included the alternative of regular cornstarch.

What are you canning in anticipation of spontaneous cravings this winter?

About Megan

Megan Myers is a copyeditor and spatula-wielding mom seeking out the simpler life in Texas. Her blog, Stetted, focuses on her family’s journey from junk food addiction to a diet of local, organic, and whole foods, while exploring the many options farmers provide.

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Comments

  1. Aww. This makes me think of my mom making cherry pies during the winter for family gatherings. Cherry was always requested by the extended family. I remember getting to dip (a clean) finger in to taste the filling. Good memories. :) If anything, canned cherries are one of those cravings…we only make cherry pie twice a year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

  2. Yummy! We typically pit and freeze our cherries and just make up pie filling as needed — I haven’t ever tried making those yummy cherries into canned pie filling to have ready when needed. Thanks for sharing how it’s done.

  3. Now I want cherry pie for breakfast. Great recipe, Megan!
    Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies’s last post: Maple Sugar Bacon, Cheddar & Rosemary Scones

  4. We *adore* cherry pie! Can’t wait to give this lovely a try!
    Wenderly’s last post: Hundred Acre Wood

  5. This is definitely bookmarked for the loads of cherries that keep coming across my path! Now – off to find ClearJel
    Aly ~ Cooking In Stilettos’s last post: Deal Alert: Dannon Activia Selects French or Greek Style Yogurt

  6. I can’t wait to try this! I canned peach pie filling last year, and now I can never go back to store-bought. :-)
    Tracy’s last post: Red Currant Jelly

  7. Oh man, this sounds good!
    Smedette’s last post: Recipe: Spicy Beer Mustard

  8. I’ve been eating fresh yummy cherries (for cheap!!) in southern CA for the last two weeks I’ve been here on vacation, but I checked my fav store in Dallas (back home) and they’re ON SALE! I’m making pie filling FIRST thing when I get home! Thanks for posting this! I rarely make fruit pies for thanksgiving b/c I’m so busy with everything else…only pumpkin!
    Jacki’s last post: COSTUMES Galore!! (from back in 2009)

  9. So I’m kind of on a mission, and I thank you for giving me one more clue on my journey to it. You see, my father’s favorite birthday cake in the whole world (every year since he was sixteen) is Chocolate Cherry Cake. This is different than black forest cake because the cherries are actually mixed into the chocolate cake… but the original recipe uses boxed cake mix and a canned cherry pie filling (which adds enough moisture to not require many other ingredients). I want to take this recipe to level of real food. I was thinking of simply canning some cherry preserves, maybe using Sure Jell. I’m wondering if Clear Jell the same thing, and how would you feel about mixing a pie filling using it into cake?

  10. My husband and I are making a triple batch of this right now! It sounded so good and the cherry prices were still good (here in WA) so we had to stock up. The “pre-canned” flavor was amazing, if it tastes 1/2 as good when it is actually cooked I am in love!!!!!

  11. Tres Delicious says:

    Looks so simple yet so nice. It reminds me of Grandma who usually does this cherry fillings. I will certainly follow the footsteps of Grandma.

  12. Oh my gosh! I made a 4x and 5x batch of this tonight, and it turned out fantastic. I just heard another popping seal… the most beautiful sound in the world! Thanks for this fantastic recipe. I’m now feeling brave enough to tread further into this exciting world of fruit pie fillings!

  13. Romalee Armstrong says:

    Could this be used in a cobbler as well. The local salvage store has CASES of bing cherries for $10 a case. I have already done cherry jam, pickled cherries and would love to do this. May have to go get another case today.

  14. My canning lovin’ husband found this site…and this amazing recipe! We had enough left over from canning to try it – and amazing it is! And bonus one of our jars did not seal…so darn I have to make another pie!

    Thank you so much for posting this!
    Dory’s last post: Storms All Around…

  15. Just wanted you to know that I did a “ahhh…cherries” post and gave you credit for the canned pie filling… http://plantsandpillarsraisedwithcare.blogspot.com/
    Thanks again for posting such a great recipe….and we had frapps while we were working – they were very tasty as well….Love your blog – so glad my husband found it!
    Dory’s last post: Another Finished Apron

  16. Okay, I just cracked open the two cans of this pie filling that I made this summer. I didn’t get to taste it when it was made because I had just enough to fill my jars. All I can say is, WOW. This was my first attempt to can pie filling, and it is just an awesome recipe. The cherries are firm, have great deep color, and have so much flavor. Soooo much better than the canned, red dyed, flavorless cherry pie filling I’m used to getting from the store. Also, I used regular corn starch and it turned out just fine.

  17. Just made it tonight, seriously so great! Watch out everyone to leave at least an inch on top for expansion in the water bath, this stuff seems to expand more than usual. But, man, it has great consistency & great flavor– I can’t wait to bake with it! I also just used cornstarch, worked like a charm.

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