Try this sour cherry pie filling recipe. You can use fresh or frozen pitted sour cherries; if using frozen cherries, you will need to thaw and drain them first. You can use the drained liquid for the cherry juice called for in the recipe. If using fresh cherries that you pit yourself use bottled cherry juice.
Note: Clear Jel, a modified form of cornstarch, is the only thickener that the USDA approves for home canning because it is designed to maintain its integrity in a high-acid environment and will not interfere with the heat absorption necessary to kill bacteria during processing. While Clear Jel is not readily available in grocery stores, you can find it online.
- 3 cups sugar
- 3/4 cup Clear Jel
- 4 cups cherry (juice)
- 1/2 cup lemon (juice)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon cloves (ground)
- 8 pounds cherries (sour and pitted, either fresh or frozen)
- Prepare a boiling-water-bath canner and heat five quart jars.
- Whisk together the sugar and Clear Jel in a medium bowl.
- In a large stockpot, combine the sugar and Clear Jel mixture with 3 cups of the cherry juice and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly to dissolve the dry ingredients and to prevent scorching. The mixture will thicken quickly.
- When the mixture is boiling, add the lemon juice, cinnamon, salt, allspice, and ground cloves, and return to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
- When the mixture is boiling again, add the cherries all at once and the remaining cup of cherry juice.
- Stirring constantly to prevent scorching, bring the pie filling to a boil. Boil for 1 minute.
- Remove the pie filling from the heat and ladle it into the jars, leaving 1 full inch of headspace. Bubble the jars and wipe off rims with a damp cloth. Place the lids on the jars and screw on the rings just until you feel resistance.
- Process the jars in the boiling-water bath for 30 minutes. Make sure the water is covering the jars and watch for boiling over. Allow the jars to cool in the water for 5 minutes before removing to a towel to cool completely.
- Check the seals and be prepared for leakage. Store in a cool, dark place for up to 1 year.