Friday, January 17, 2014

Cherry Pie Filling

Revised and Updated July 2021

Cherries! Beautiful, wonderful, delicious cherries, and one of the fruits I had never canned up until today. Be sure to select fresh, very ripe, and firm cherries, however unsweetened frozen cherries may also be used.

I did not have any Clear-Jel, so I ordered some online and it arrived just in time for today's cooking adventure. 

Why Clear-Jel?
 Clear Jel is a waxy maize or corn starch that has been modified to resist break down under high temperatures and different pH levels. Therefore, it is an ideal thickening agent and is widely used commercially. Clear Jel is recommended for home canning of pie fillings as it will not break down as the pie filling is cooked in preparation for canning, heated during the canning process, and heated a third time as the pie is baked. Products, including pie fillings, thickened with Clear Jel also freeze well.

Cornstarch, tapioca, or flour should not be used in canned pie filling.  These thickeners are not suitable because they tend to clump during canning and cloud on the shelf rendering the pie filling unappetizing and unable to thicken when baked. Pie fillings made with Clear Jel also increase the safety of the products. Because Clear Jel remains clear and does not clump, heat is better able to penetrate the contents of the jar evenly to kill bacteria and other contaminants during the boiling water or steam canning process. Jars of pie filling will keep the same consistency after processing, remain shelf stable for at least 12 months, and bake into a perfect pie by simply pouring the filling into a crust and topping as desired. There will be no starch or flour taste in the filling.

Following guidance from the National Center for Home Preservation, here are the amazing results! Why buy it, when you can make it so easily at home? This loveliness is going to be used in parfaits, topped on cheesecake, and more! Yummm!

6 cups cherries, stemmed and pitted
2 cups sugar 
1/2 cup + 2 tbls. Clear-Jel
2 2/3 cup cold water
2 tbls. + 2 tsp. lemon juice
dash ground cinnamon (optional)
1/2 tsp. almond extract (optional)

Place fresh cherries (stemmed and pitted), in 1 gallon boiling water. Boil for 1 minute after the water returns to a boil. Drain, place cherries in a colander on top of a bowl, and set aside.

Combine sugar and Clear-Jel in a large saucepan and add water. If desired, add cinnamon and almond extract. 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 and any juice from the cherries immediately, and fill jars with mixture without delay, leaving 1 inch head-space. Adjust lids and process immediately in a water bath or steam canner 30 minutes for either pints or quarts. 

Remove jars and let sit undisturbed 24 hours. Jars are sealed when the button on top of the lid is fully depressed and won't flex up and down. Store in pantry up to one year.

Yield:  4 pints or 2 quarts

Cooks Note - This recipe can safely and easily be doubled.


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