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If a person wants to can cherries, there is one rule of thumb to follow. Taste one. Is it ripe enough? What do you want it to taste like? If it is firm and not too ripe, you have the cherry you will want to preserve. If you like to pick your own, you may go to an orchard to pick too. One hint: Call ahead and see if the weather is right and the orchard isn't too busy or have some problem with letting people pick that day.
To prepare the jars, they can be washed in a dishwasher if it has a sanitized cycle. The jars can be left in the dishwasher on a heat cycle. The lids need to be washed and left in the hot water. The canner needs to be filled so that there will be an inch of boiling water over the top of the jars.
Note: Use sweet cherries for jellies and jams and tart cherries for pie filling.
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We just bought our own home about 3 months ago and were ecstatic to find out we already have a sour cherry tree. I wasn't able to get anything from it this year (by the time we realized what it was the birds had gotten most of 'em), but would love to try canning some next year. Does anyone have any good recipes I could try?