Simple Sour Cherries
Amy Pennington runs an urban gardening business called GoGo Green that installs gardens for city dwellers. Her cookbook incorporates many tips on how to grow your own kitchen garden and teaches a kitchen economy for today’s urbanite – from how to stock the pantry, to what to plant when, to how to can and preserve a variety of foods for the winter months.
5 pounds sour pie cherries, such as Montmorency, stemmed and pitted (reserve your pits!)
6 1/2 cups water
1 cup sugar
Prepare jars for canning. In a large saucepan, bring the water and sugar to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and keep at a low simmer until you are ready to use the syrup.
Pack the jars, adding the cherries until they reach the bottom-most ring on the top of the jar. On a folded-over dish towel (for padding), strongly tap the bottom of the jar on the counter to help pack down the cherries. They’ll compress at least 1/2 inch. Fill the jar again to the bottom ring and tap down again, compressing the cherries as much as possible without squeezing them down. Add a spoonful of cherry pits to the jar for flavor.
Once the jars are full (with 1/2 inch of headspace), evenly distribute any cherry juice that has accumulated at the bottom of the cherry bowl. Using a ladle or a liquid measuring cup for ease, pour the hot syrup over the cherries, leaving 1/2 inch of headspace. Gently tap the bottom of the jar on the counter to release any air bubbles. Wipe the rims of the jars, using a damp clean towel, and place the lids and rings on the jars. Process in a water bath for 25 minutes.
Remove the jars with tongs and let cool on the counter. When cooled, check for proper seals, remove the metal rings, and label with date and contents. Store in a cool, dark cupboard until ready to use, for up to a year.
Pantry Note: You’ll likely have extra simple syrup left after your cherries are packed. Store this in a jar in the fridge for your next canning adventure. You’ll need 2 pints of sour cherries to fill a pie. I often add 1 pint plus another fruit when making a tart or pie, to extend the life of the cherries. Once open, these cherries will keep in the fridge for several weeks.