How to preserve cherries – the easiest way of preserving cherries, either sweet cherries or sour cherries, in a low sugar way: only 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar (to taste) per large jar.
I mentioned it before that we have a lot of cherries this year. In comparison to last year when we didn’t have any. Two years ago we had even more than now, but I think the three years before that was also bad, either nothing growing, or cherries full of worms or birds eating everything before we could pick any.
Fast forward to July 2018. We never had so many cherries as we have this year. I’ve made 17 large jars of preserved cherries, made cherry butter, countless cakes and desserts with cherries and the tree is still heavy with cherries.
So the probability is that next year we will have nothing again, so I have to find a way of preserving the cherries we have now. I have to admit that at the moment I am so annoyed of pitting cherries that part of me wishes to leave what’s still in the tree for the birds, but on the other side I know that if I do that I will regret it.
HOW TO PRESERVE CHERRIES – LOW SUGAR
So I am picking and pitting and conserving one way or another. I made cherry butter, 3 kinds of cherry jam, lacto-fermented cherry salsa, cherry compote, cherry cheesecake and this simple cherries preserved in water, which I can use over the next couple of years either for cakes or cherry sauce or any other kind of dessert.
People normally preserve sour cherries this way, but I have been preserving my sweet cherries like this for years now and I love it. But just that you know, sour cherries can be preserved exactly the same way, you might want to add an extra tablespoon sugar when preserving sour cherries, but it is not mandatory.
Preserving sweet or sour cherries is so easy and quick, the only thing a bit annoying about it is – again- pitting the cherries. I bought this cheap cherry stoner 2 years ago and I have never regretted it. I still wish I could be Harry Potter and conjure all of those pits out of the cherries with a flick of my wand, but as that is not possible, I will have to do with a cherry stoner.
WHAT DO YOU NEED TO PRESERVE SWEET OR SOUR CHERRIES?
To preserve cherries this way, all you need is a little sugar, about 2 tablespoon per jar, the jars and water.
When it comes to jars, do use large ones, it makes no sense to take small jars which would only hold a handful of cherries. I usually use jars with a capacity of 800 ml/ 24 fl.oz.
You could buy fancy nice jars, if you like, but I didn’t bother. Clean old jars would do just as well. I usually keep the large gherkins or olive jars, I clean them well, sterilize them before using and put all my cherries or apricots in them. And talking about apricots, I preserve apricots the same way. And gooseberries as well.
HOW TO STERILIZE JARS
I have been using the same jars for years, most of them are recycled jars that used to contain something else. However I always discard them when the lids are not OK anymore.
If using special bought jars for jams or other preserves, I buy new lids after using them two or three times in a row. Even if these special jars have different capacities, they always need lids of the same size.
I always sterilize 2 or 3 more jars than I think I need, just to make sure I have enough ready.
Step 1: Wash the jars and lids thoroughly with soap and warm water before sterilizing them.
Step 2: Preheat the oven to 130 degrees Celsius/ 275 degrees Fahrenheit. Place the jars on a baking tray and put them in the oven for 20 minutes.
Step 3: In the meantime boil the lids for a few minutes in a small pot full of water. Drain in a colander and handle with care, they are hot.
So, once you have pitted your cherries and sterilized your jars, fill the cherries into the jars leaving about 2.5 cm/ 1 inch of space at the top. Sprinkle the sugar on top of the cherries and fill the jars with water. Put the lid on.
HOW TO PRESERVE THE CHERRIES IN JARS
Step 1: To preserve the jars take the widest pot you have. My pot is very wide (and rather low) and can hold 5 large jars.
Step 2: Place a clean kitchen towel on the bottom of the pot and arrange the jars with the cherries in the pot, making sure that they are nicely seated on the towel and that they do not touch each other. Fill the pot with lukewarm water.
Step 3: Bring the water to a boil, turn the heat down to medium-low and boil the jars for 15 minutes. Immediately remove the jars from the pot and leave them cool on a folded kitchen towel.
Step 4: Store in a cool dark place, a cellar would be perfect.
WHAT TO DO WITH PRESERVED CHERRIES?
The preserved cherries keep very well and for quite a long time. The longest I had them were 2 years and they were perfect. But how to use them all?
You could have the preserved cherries either plain or thickened with cornstarch on top of strained yogurt. You can use them for cakes, like this Gooseberry Cherry Cake or this Hazelnut Chocolate Banana Cherry Cake with Cream.
- 1-2 tablespoons granulated sugar for each jar
- large jars, about 800 ml/ 24 fl.oz capacity
Clean the jars thoroughly and as instructed above.
Pit the cherries but leave them whole. A cherry pitter will make your life easier.
Give the cherries to the jars leaving about 2.5 cm/ 1 inch of space at the top. Add 1 or 2 tablespoons sugar to each jar (to taste).
Pour water in each jar to completely cover the cherries. Seal the jars.
Take a very wide pot. Place a clean folded kitchen towel inside it. Put so many jars in the pot as they fit, taking care that they don't touch each other. Pour warm in the pot. The jars should be halfway immersed in the water. Bring the water to a boil and boil the jars for about 15 minutes.
Take the jars out immediately, place them on kitchen towels and leave them to cool. Store in a cool, dark place (I keep them in the cellar).
The cherries will keep for a rather long time, the cherries I preserved 2 years ago were still perfect this summer.