This recipe for cherry pie filling is best with sour cherries, but sweet cherries will work just fine. It can easily be halved for making an even smaller batch, but when it comes time to pitting cherries, I prefer to spend one day getting the worst out of the way, so later I can focus on the really important stuff, like eating pie. One quart of filling makes one 9 inch pie. If you open a jar and don’t use all of the filling, be sure to refrigerate it until you finish it up.
Wash and dry the cherries. Pit them over a bowl, reserving all flesh and juices. If you really like cooking and baking with cherries, it really is worth it to buy a cherry pitter. I’m not one for single use kitchen gadgets, but it really does the job. If not, just halve the cherries and remove the pit.
Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl. In a large pot, whisk together the water and lemon juice, then add the sugar and cornstarch in, whisking well to combine and remove any lumps. Bring the mixture to a boil.
Add the cherries and bring to a simmer. Simmer, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the cherries have softened and the juice has thickened.
Ladle the mixture into sanitized canning jars, leaving 1 inch of headspace. Fasten the lids to each jar, and transfer to a boiling water canner. Process for 30 minutes, then remove and let cool completely at room temperature. Check the seals, then store in a cool, dark place.
I always carry three kinds of hot sauce in my purse. I have a soft spot for making people their favorite dessert, especially if it's pie. My first cookbook, The Fearless Baker, is out on October 24, 2017.