Despite the rain we just had here in California, Summer is here and despite mother nature’s attempt to hold them back – some cherries made it through. As a kid, growing up in the Bay Area, I remember riding my bike to the nearby orchard, playing under the trees, and eating so many cherries that we made ourselves sick – by the time cherry season passed we had had our fill.
Those times are long gone, nearly all the orchards are gone from my old stomping grounds and now the painful price of cherries only affords us a few handfuls now and then. But this year, we were so tired of the gloomy days of winter that when cherries became available we got so excited that we ordered a case from a local farm and decided to can them up. The results were heavenly. The kids love them and they will keep for a year, but I doubt they will last that long.
These cherries were canned in a light honey syrup, then processed in a water bath.
Below are two recipes for light syrup – one with honey and one without. Young children, 18 months and younger should not consume honey, but for older children and adults honey has been reported to support the immune system and particularly those with allergies. I use local honey whenever I can, not only to support our local beekeepers, but to take better advantage of those health qualities.
8 cups filtered water
2 cups honey
1 cup sugar
6 cups filtered water
1 cup sugar
These cherries were washed, stemmed, sorted, then raw packed into sterilized jars. Make sure not to pack the jars too full and to leave enough head room for the syrup. The syrup is prepared by stirring ingredients slowly up to a simmer then kept hot. The cherries are covered with hot syrup, then processed according to standard guidelines. 25 minutes for quarts, less time for smaller jars. You should consult a canning guide for specific times and guidelines for your altitude and jars. The jar you see here is a Weck jar, processed a little differently from regular American methods. For more canning inspiration check out Food in Jars – beyond her great canning recipes, the week this posts she is making cherry syrup and other boozy cherry drinks!
If you have never canned before and it looks like it might be fun, I recommend taking a class or finding a friend who cans and offer to help. Its a great way to learn and I’m sure they will appreciate the help. Canning is also a fun way to get your kids involved with their food and excited about eating it. When I was a kid my small hands landed me the job of packing peaches and tomatoes into the canning jars for my Grandma. I took great pride in seeing those colorful jars up on the shelf, and couldn’t wait to eat them. With all the challenges food allergies give us, I feel that same pride seeing my daughter loving food that we have prepared together, that is healthy and safe. And now she’ll have her own memories of cherries in the summer.