Grow, Recipes

Unexpected Blessings {and Home Canned Cherry Pie Filling Recipe}

Unexpected blessings

Has something happened to you that seemed most unfortunate or inconvenient? Where, at the time, you couldn’t see much good coming from it?

I’ve been there a few times. One such instance is when I discovered that commercially canned food product upsets my stomach to the point of leaving me in the fetal position. The best way I have come to describe it is this: imagine you have swallowed handfuls of tiny, sharp daggers – then imagine them making their way through your digestive track. Not pleasant. Not one bit.

I am working with my new doctor to potentially determine why this is happening and what is causing the pain. In the past, I’ve simply been told “you know what bothers you, so don’t eat it”. Super helpful. (Insert immature eye roll here).

What good can come from this?

I asked myself this question many times. As a university student, this meant more time in the kitchen preparing meals that I didn’t have time to prepare to begin with. This meant finding substitutes for almost every recipe in existence. Yes, I had a downright pity party.

After many substitution mishaps, I slowly came to find favourites. I slowly discovered things that worked and didn’t work. I found a newfound love for cooking and baking. It became a challenge to find better recipes for what I had made in the past.

We started eating much healthier. Everything was fresh. No canned anything. Slowly, we started weeding out store-bought frozen too – this just kind of happened by accident as we began to crave the freshness of our fruits and vegetables. (Beans came much, much later as they really took time to get right).



Then we did something “old-fashioned”

One thing I missed was in-season fruits and vegetables in the summer. There came a time in our last years of university that we decided it was time to garden. But, what were we to do with the abundance of the produce we produced? How could we make our garden goods last all year?

In the beginning, we started blanching and freezing our produce. The following year, we learned the art of home canning. Many people told us we were crazy. Many told us that it was awesome that some people from our generation were keeping the skill alive (typically sentimental members of generations before us). Some didn’t know what to say. Some were curious.

For us, this whole adventure has been a blessing! My husband and I do our canning together as a summer/fall “project” and we have learned some really neat skills. We have also learned to preserve our garden fruits and veggies but also ones we pick up from farmers markets. It has expanded the seasons we can enjoy various foods. We love knowing what is in our food and how it was preserved. It also gives us the satisfaction of working for the things we eat.

Back to the canning… We started with peaches – oh how I longed for the ability to eat peaches in the dead of winter, and ones that were not frozen. We did pickled beans, pickled carrots, plums, concord grape juice, and nectarines. Since that time many years ago, we have branched into many different things we have canned….

But there was always something missing

One thing I truly missed was cherry pie filling. Not for pies, but for black forest cake. The cake I always wanted on my birthday. Truly, one of my favourites, but it was never the same without the pie filling.

I have experimented over the years to get a flavour and processing method that I truly enjoyed. I’ve tried sweet cherries and sour cherries. I’ve tried hot packing my cherries and cold packing them. And I’ve tried various seasonings and extracts. Today, I give to you my best combination yet!

As a note, ClearJel, which is the recommended thickening agent for canning pie fillings can be used but for me, I have to order it online. I never think to order it until after I have in my possession a ton of cherries, so it is never an option for me. To be honest, I like the method I use without a thickening agent and I just thicken when I am ready to use it. Please note that this recipe is for unthickened cherry pie filling.

The making of a masterpiece:

22 pounds of pitted sour cherries waiting.
22 pounds of pitted sour cherries waiting.
All ingredients for the syrup in the pot.
All ingredients for the syrup in the pot. The red colour is from the water I had the cherries soaking in.
While I prepared the syrup, my husband prepared 14 pint jars.
While I prepared the syrup, my husband prepared 14 pint jars.
As the syrup ingredients combined and warmed, it became a beautiful, uniform colour.
As the syrup ingredients combined and warmed, it became a beautiful, uniform colour. The small cherry pieces shown floating are okay and will not bother anything.
The cherries are cold packed into pint jars leaving a generous amount of head room at the top.
The cherries are cold packed into pint jars leaving a generous amount of head room at the top.
The syrup is ready to be added to the cold packed jars.
The syrup is ready to be added to the cold packed jars.

Tip: Place a towel under the jars for easy clean up, place your syrup close to the jars, and use a funnel to add the syrup directly into the jars.

Fill jars with the syrup, but be sure to leave 1/2 an inch head space for the mixture to expand and not boil out during processing. I like to fill to the bottom of the lid lines.
Fill jars with the syrup, but be sure to leave 1/2 an inch head space for the mixture to expand and not boil out during processing. I like to fill to the bottom of the lid lines.
Be sure to wipe to rim of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to ensure there is no syrup on the rim. This can prevent the jar from sealing, so don't miss this step.
Be sure to wipe to rim of the jars with a clean, damp cloth to ensure there is no syrup on the rim. This can prevent the jar from sealing, so don’t miss this step.
Place your freshly boiled lids (also called sealers) onto each jar and put the rings on finger tight. The jars are ready for processing!
Place your freshly boiled lids (also called sealers) onto each jar and put the rings on finger tight. The jars are ready for processing!
Now is time for processing. You need to find out your altitude for accurate processing times. We invested into an outdoor setup for two reasons: 1 is so that the canning does not heat the house in the summer and 2 is because I'm scared to can on my flat top stove as the pot is way bigger than the burners.
Now is time for processing. You need to find out your altitude for accurate processing times. We invested into an outdoor setup for two reasons: 1 is so that the canning does not heat the house in the summer and 2 is because I’m scared to can on my flat top stove (the pot is way bigger than the burners).

The finished product!

As mentioned above, this recipe is for unthickened pie filling. I put the thickening instructions on all my jars so there is no guessing later. For 1 pint of pie filling, I strain the liquid into a pot and mix in 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch - reserve the cherries for later. I mix the cornstarch into the liquid well and then turn on the heat. I heat to a boil over medium heat and continue to heat until the desired consistency is achieved. I then remove from heat and add the cherries. The filling is now ready to be added to whichever recipe you desire. (You may have to let it cool depending on the recipe).
As mentioned above, this recipe is for unthickened pie filling. I put the thickening instructions on all my jars so there is no guessing later. For 1 pint of pie filling, I strain the liquid into a pot and mix in 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch – reserve the cherries for later. I mix the cornstarch into the liquid well and then turn on the heat. Then I heat to a boil over medium heat and continue to heat until the desired consistency is achieved. I then remove from heat and add the cherries. The filling is now ready to be added to whichever recipe you desire. (You may have to let it cool depending on the recipe).
Voila! Your unthickened cherry pie filling is ready for your shelves and ready for whenever you need it. It keeps for a year (I've kept it much longer). Enjoy!
Voila! Your unthickened cherry pie filling is ready for your shelves and ready for whenever you need it. It keeps for a year (I’ve kept it much longer). Enjoy!



Homemade Cherry Pie Filling, a recipe:

Voila! Your unthickened cherry pie filling is ready for your shelves and ready for whenever you need it. It keeps for a year (I've kept it much longer). Enjoy!
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Cherry Pie Filling {Unthickened}

A home canning recipe for preserving cherry pie filling. It may take a bit of time but it is well worth it. Note: This is for an unthickened pie filling where the thickening agents are added when you are ready to use a jar.

Prep Time 40 minutes
Cook Time 35 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings 14 pint jars
Author Amanda

Ingredients

  • 22 cups pitted sour cherries
  • 6 1/2 cups sugar
  • 8 2/3 cups water
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • 6 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 tsp almond extract

Instructions

Cherry Pie Filling Instructions:

  1. First, pit the cherries. You can soak them in some cold water with lemon juice to keep them from browning. Do not dump the water, you will use this later when forming the syrup.

  2. Sterilize 14 pint jars and rings.

  3. Place sugar, reserved cherry water, lemon juice, vanilla extract, and almond extract in a pot. Stir mixture and heat over medium-high heat.

  4. While waiting for the mixture to boil, cold pack the cherries evenly between 14 pint jars (ensure they are sanitized). Stir the syrup mixture throughout this process.

  5. Boil the lids/seals for 5 minutes. (Make sure they are in the boiling water before you start to fill the jars with syrup).

  6. When the syrup mixture is boiling and the cherries are packed in the jars, fill each jar. Make sure you leave a 1/2 inch to 1 inch headspace in each jar.

  7. Place the lids on the jars and secure them in place with the rings. The rings should be finger tight.

  8. Process immediately in a boiling water bath canner. For processing times, you need to know your altitude. Find the processing time at the link below. Use the boiling water canner raw pack processing times, but add an additional 5 minutes to the time; the added 5 minutes will help soften the cherries a little more.

  9. Remove the jars from your canner and let cool. Wait for the sweet sounds of the jars sealing. If any do not seal, place in your fridge to use.

  10. Label your jars. Make a note to add 1 1/2 tsp corn starch when ready to use the pie filling.

Using the pie filling:

  1. Place a strainer over a pot.

  2. Dump the contents of one jar into the strainer.

  3. Set the cherries aside for now.

  4. Add 1 1/2 tsp of cornstarch to the syrup. Whisk well.


  5. When the mixture is mixed, turn on the heat to medium-high. Mix continuously until the mixture thickens.

  6. Fold in cherries.

  7. Either let the mixture cool to use in icings (amazing for black forest cake) or pour into a pie crust for an amazing pie.

  8. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Read all instructions as this process goes really fast and there are times you need to multitask. If you haven't water bath canned before, please read about sterilizing your equipment and processing before you begin.

Click here for processing times by altitude.

To find your processing time, look under the water bath canning section for raw packed cherries. Add 5 minutes to arrive at your processing time. As an example, my altitude is between 1,000 and 2,000. The website states my processing time is 30 minutes. I added 5 minutes and therefore processed my cherry pie filling for 35 minutes.

Enjoy!

If you try this recipe, comment below with what you think!

Feel free to comment below with any unexpected blessings you’ve experienced, how I can pray for you, or any other comments!

Home canned cherry pie filling, a recipe
Home canned cherry pie filling, a recipe

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