Cherries are a great snack to enjoy on a regular basis. Fresh cherries are ideal because they taste sweet and the skin is a deep red color. Preserving cherries can be done in a couple of ways: freezing them in airtight bags or storing them in jars. Preserved fresh cherries can also be used in pies, jellies and cobblers. Preserving cherries can be time-consuming but, with the necessary supplies, you can be successful.
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Wash the cherries and remove the stems. If you plan on removing the pit from the cherries, place the cherries in cold water with five or six Vitamin C tablets. The Vitamin C tablets prevent stem-end discoloration. Pitting the cherries consists of removing the pits in the middle. You can pit the cherries with a knife or any sharp utensil.
Make a syrup pack to preserve the cherries. The ingredients of the syrup pack are based on the type of cherry: sour or sweet. For sour cherries, dissolve 2 1/2 cups of sugar in four cups of water. For sweet cherries, dissolve 1 1/4 cups of sugar in four cups of water. Use heat and a saucepan to dissolve the sugar and water.
Put the cherries and syrup in pint or quart freezer bags. Do not fill the bags to the top. West Virginia University states that you should add one cup of syrup to each quart of cherries. Squeeze out the air, label and seal the bags. Place the bags in the freezer. If the bags are tightly sealed the cherries can last for about one year.
Place cherries in glass jars. Preserving cherries in jars is another option. When placing cherries in jars, you will have to make a syrup specially for this process. For sour cherries, dissolve 3 3/4 cups of sugar and 8 1/4 cups of water. For sweet cherries, dissolve 1 1/4 cups of sugar and 10 1/2 cups of water.
Pour the cherries and the syrup into a clean jar. Clean the rim, removing any extra syrup. Place the lid on the jar and seal it tight.
Process the jars by placing them into a pressure canner. Place a jar rack in the pressure canner, as well as 2 inches of water and the sealed jars. Fasten the lids and heat the canner on the stove. West Virginia University states that you should exhaust the steam for 10 minutes, then add a weighted gauge to pressurize the canner. An estimated process time is 35 minutes.
Remove canner from heat when processing is complete. Cool the canner until it is depressurized. Slowly remove weighted gauge and wait two minutes to unfasten and remove canner lid. Remove jars with a jar lifter and place jars on a towel. Cool the jars for 12 to 24 hours, then check the lid seals.
Wash, dry and store jars in a cool, dark place. Only store jars with lids that are indented in the center. If some of the lids are not indented, use a new lid and reprocess. Cherries are best if consumed within one year. Make sure the lids are vacuum-sealed.