Friday, November 20, 2015

Cherry Pie Filling & Topping

There is no comparison between a homemade canned pie filling and a store bought filling.  Canned fillings are loaded with fruit and you can adjust the seasonings to your taste.  Pie fillings are not just for pies.  They are great toppings on a yellow cake, pound cake, cheese cake, or ice cream.  They also make delicious fruit milkshakes.  At breakfast they are yummy on pancakes, waffles, or crepes.  

You can use either fresh fruit or frozen.  Using frozen cherries that have already been pitted make this a super quick canning recipe. If you use frozen fruit thaw the fruit, rinse it and let it drain.  If you can only find sweetened fruit then rinse it while the cherries are still frozen.

This recipe uses a modified food starch called Clear Jel.  Cornstarch and other thickeners will break down in the canning and baking process resulting in a running filling.  Clear Jell produces the perfect thickening that survives the canning process and will hold up when baking the filling in a pie.

The processing time for this recipe is for  altitudes of 0-1000 feet.  You need to adjust the time for higher altitudes.  Altitudes of 3000-6000 add 10 minutes to the processing time.

The the almond extract and cinnamon are optional.  I love this combo with cherries.  The lemon juice is not optional.  It is essential to ensure the safety of the finished product.

Cherry Pie Filling                                            1 Quart                                 7 Quart Jars

Sour Cherries (fresh or frozen)                      3 1/3 cups                                6 quarts 
Sugar                                                               1 cup                                       7 cups
Clear Jel                                                       1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp                        1 3/4 cups
Cinnamon                                                         1/8 tsp                                    1 tsp
Cold Water                                                     1 1/3 cups                                 9 1/3 cups
Almond Extract                                              1/4 tsp                                      2 tsp
Bottled Lemon Juice                                      1 Tbs + 1 tsp                            1/2 cup

Rinse and pit the cherries if using fresh cherries.  Place fresh cherries in an anti- darkening solution.  If using frozen cherries, thaw cherries, rinse and allow to drain in a strainer.

Combine sugar, Clear Jel, and cinnamon in a large saucepan.  Whisk to combine.  

Add cold water, and almond extract.  Stir  and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble.  Add lemon juice and boil 1 minutes, stirring constantly.

  Remove from heat and fold in cherries.  Some recipes call for red food coloring.  It does make it pretty but I prefer no food dyes.

Fill jars without any delay, leaving 1 inch head space.  To help with removing air bubbles, partially fill the jar then run a spatula down the sides.  Continue to fill the jar to within l inch and once again run a spatula down the sides.
Wipe jar rims.  Adjust and process immediately in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes adjusting for higher altitudes. Remove lid of the canner when the time is up.  Leave jars in the canner with heat off 5-10 minutes then remove and cool on the counter.

Filling the jar half way and using a spatula  helps remove air bubbles.

I love these quilted looking jars from Better Homes. They come in quart size.  Cherry pie filling looks gorgeous in them.