Cherry Pie Filling For Canning

I kicked off my canning season this year with cherry pie filling. You can use cherry pie filling not only for pies but for cobbler, crisps, topping for a cheesecake…you get the idea. I buy tart cherries from a local orchard. Cherries aren’t exactly cheap…I paid $34 for 8 quarts, but its well worth it. I have used sweet cherries before in this recipe but I feel that the pie filling was way to sweet for my taste, so I will just stick with the tart cherries.

First things first, if you are new to canning or have any questions about the supplies needed and the canning process please refer to the following link. It is packed full of helpful information about food preservation.

I start off by washing my cherries and I sort through removing any stems or bad cherries. Now here comes part that seems to take forever…removing the seeds. I have a pitter that does one…cherry…at…a…time. Its a never ending bowl of cherries when you do it this way. But next year I will invest in a multi pitter.

What I do is pit my cherries over a large bowl. You will notice juice at the bottom of your bowl as you are pitting. I dump my pit bowl in a colander over another bowl to collect that yummy cherry juice. I can use that juice in my recipe. I throw the pitted cherries in a bowl of water with juice of half a lemon or citric acid until I am finished pitting and ready to can.

When I am finally finished pitting I wash my jars and sterilize them in the oven (250 degrees for at least 20 minutes). For this recipe I need about 7 quart jars. I also get my other canning supplies sterilized and ready to use.

In a large heavy bottom pot I combine Clear Jel, sugar, my collected cherry juice, water, cinnamon and almond extract. (Clear Jel is recommended over cornstarch or flour in canning recipes. I buy mine at a local Mennonite bulk store, but I’m sure you can get it online. It makes a beautiful smooth filling.)

I stir this mixture over medium heat until it is thick and bubbly. I then add lemon juice and my cherries. You will want to stir this gently so your cherries stay whole and pretty.

Now is when we can fill our warm jars with the filling leaving one inch of head space. Be sure to wipe the rims of the jars before putting on the sterilized lids and rings.

Process in a water bath for 35 minutes.

I even kept enough leftover to make a cherry cobbler!


Cherry Pie Filling for Canning

  • 6 quarts of cherries
  • 7 cups of sugar
  • 1 3/4 cups of Clear Jel
  • Cold water plus collected cherry juice from pitting to equal 9 cups
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tsp almond extract (optional)

Pit cherries over a large bowl. Dump seeds in colander collecting juice. Set aside.

Prepare canner, jars and lids.

In a large stainless steel heavy bottom pot, mix together sugar, Clear Jel, cinnamon, almond extract and water with reserved cherry juice. Boil until thickened and mixture is beginning to bubble. Be sure to stir! Add cherries and lemon juice and bring to another boil while constantly stirring. Remove from heat.

Carefully ladle the filling into your warm sterilized jars leaving 1 inch headspace. Dont forget to remove air bubbles and adjust your headspace if necessary. Wipe rims and put a lid and band on each jar. Screw lids fingertip tight.

Carefully place jars in waterbath canner. Be sure they are covered completely with water. Bring to a boil and process for 35 minutes.


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