Tart Cherry Pie Filling

Not only does this mouthwatering filling make a to-die-for pie, it is also an excellent topping for coffee cake. If you need a housewarming gift, it makes a nice addition to a food basket.


makes about eight pint jars or four quart jars


15 cups frozen tart red cherries, thawed in the refrigerator for 24 hours (about 10 pounds)
3 1/2 cups granulated (white) sugar
1 cup ClearJel®***
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 cup lemon juice


In a colander placed over a large bowl, drain thawed cherries, stirring occasionally, until you have collected 8 cups juice, about 2 hours. Set liquid and cherries aside.

Meanwhile, prepare boiling water canner, jars, and lids. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready for use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.

In a large stainless steel saucepan, whisk together 4 cups cherry liquid*, sugar, ClearJel® and cinnamon. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, and boil until thickened and mixture begins to bubble. Add lemon juice, return to a boil and boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add reserved cherries all at once. Return to a boil** over medium-high heat, stirring constantly and gently. Remove from heat.

Ladle hot pie filling into hot jars, leaving 1 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace, if necessary, by adding hot filling. Wipe rim with clean cloth. Center lid on jar. Screw band (ring) down until resistance is met, then increase to fingertip-tight.

Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely covered with water. Bring to a boil and process both pint and quart jars for 35 minutes, adjusting for altitude*8**. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed. Store.

Additional Information

* You can store the extra cherry juice in the refrigerator for up to 3 weeks or freeze it for up to 1 year. Use it to flavor punches and lemon-lime soda. Or drink the juice alone, adding sweetener to taste.

** Failing to heat the cherries and sauce to a full boil can lead to liquid escaping from the jar during processing and/or seal failure.

*** ClearJel® is a cooking starch that is acceptable for use in home canning. Not all cooking starches are suitable for home canning, as reheating causes some to lose viscosity. Making mixtures too thick can interfere with required heat penetration during heat processing.

**** If you are canning above 1,000 feet sea level, see Canning Altitude Adjustments to find how much additional processing time is needed.

Place a clean towel on your work surface to absorb water from the hot jars as you take them out of the water bath (boiling-water) canner to be filled, and again once the jars are processed. The towel prevents hot jars from coming into contact with cooler countertops. Significant temperature differences can cause jar breakage.

A jar lifter is very helpful for handling hot, wet jars. Because they are bulky and fit loosely, oven mitts — even water-resistant types — are not a wise choice. When filling jars, an all-purpose rubber glove, worn on your helper hand, will allow you to steady the jar.

A clear plastic ruler, kept solely for kitchen use, will help you determine the correct headspace. Each filled jar should be measured accurately, as the headspace can affect sealing and the preservation of the contents.

When preparing jars and lids, prepare a couple extra in case your yield is larger than you expect. If you don't have enough jars, place any leftovers in an airtight container; store in the refrigerator and use within a few weeks.

Before using jars, inspect them carefully for any chips, cracks or fractures. Discard any imperfect jars.

See Canning & Preserving Glossary for a description of terms used in this recipe.

Before canning each season, review canning procedures. See Canning & Preserving Basics to refresh your memory with the procedures.

Recipe Courtesy Of

Ball Home Preserving

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