Guess what I found at the Grand Blanc farmers' market on Sunday?? Tart cherries!! Woohoo!! :) I washed and pitted them on Sunday night after Carson went to bed, then I made and canned a batch of cherry pie filling using a USDA recipe on Monday evening. I made a double batch of the recipe below and ended up with 6 pints and 1 half-pint of filling. I tasted it as I was filling the jars and the cherries were a little tart-tasting still, but I think they'll probably sweeten up a little as they sit in the sugar-gel and if not, I'll just add a little sugar when I break open a jar. Otherwise, they tasted great, though! I'm excited to have this in the pantry now - I'll have to make turnovers or something sometime soon... though I think I might pick up some more fresh tart cherries and try making a cherry pie with fresh cherries if I can find them still... we'll see what I find and how much time I have, though. I'll update with a picture later on after I upload it.
Cherry Pie Filling
For every 1-quart of canned filling, you will need:
3 1/3 cups fresh or thawed sour cherries (I used fresh)
1 cup Granulated sugar (I used free-trade, organic)
1/4 cup + 1 Tablespoon Clear Jel
1 1/3 cups cold water
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon bottled lemon juice
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)
1/4 teaspoon almond extract (optional)
6 drops red food coloring (optional)
Select fresh, very ripe, and firm cherries. Unsweetened frozen cherries may be used. If sugar has been added, rinse it off while the fruit is still frozen.
Rinse and pit fresh cherries, and hold in cold water. To prevent stem end browning, use ascorbic acid solution (I didn't do this, but probably should have).
For fresh fruit, place 6 cups at a time in 1 gallon boiling water. Boil each batch 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain but keep heated fruit in a covered bowl or pot.
Combine sugar and Clear Jel in a large saucepan and add water. If desired, add cinnamon, almond extract, and food coloring (I added them all). Stir mixture and cook over medium high heat until mixture thickens and begins to bubble. Add lemon juice and boil 1 minute, stirring constantly. Fold in drained cherries immediately and fill jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1 inch headspace. Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 30 minutes.