One of my favorite food preservation seasons is Cherry Picking Season … yes, around here when it is time to pick cherries we practically consider it its own season. When cherry season arrives I know it is time to pull out two of my staple food preservation equipment; my boiling water bath canner and my steam juicer. One of the first things I like to do at the beginning of the cherry season is to make cherry juice using a steam juicer. Cherry juice has such great flavor and color. In addition to tasting great on its own, cherry juice can be a lovely juice to add to other juices like apple juice or make into beautiful jelly.
Preparation to Make Cherry Juice:
Begin by preparing to juice your cherries. Heat clean jars in the oven at 250 degrees. Place lids in simmering water on the stove. Fill your boiling water bath canner high enough to cover 3 quart-sized jars. Place the water bath on medium heat to warm up. Fill the bottom of your steam juicer with water and start heating the water on medium heat as well.
Wash and Pit
Since we are planning on using the leftover pulp from the cherries to make cherry butter we will de-stem and pit 10 pounds of cherries. If you are only planning on using the juice and throw out the cherry pulp you could skip this step.
How to Make Cherry Juice with a Steam Juicer:
Place the cherries in the top basket of the juicer and turn the heat up to high. Continue to check the water level on the bottom as you do not want to burn your pan. Over the course of 30 minutes to 2 hours, depending on the ripeness of your fruit, the juice will collect in the middle portion of the juicer.
Pour Juice into jars
I like to use a stool as my working surface because it is a good height below the level of the stove to allow gravity to drain the cherry juice from my steam juicer into my jars. Place something like a wood cutting board or a folded cloth on the stool to protect it from the heat and sticky messes that are inevitably made. It is useful to have an additional jar available to catch any drips from the steam juicer hose as sometimes the clamp allows a little to leak.
After the cherry juice has collected in the middle portion of the steam juicer I remove my hot jars from the oven and proceed to fill them with the hot juice. Cherry Juice can be quite tart at this point so if you like sweet juice (like I do) it is a good idea to put about an inch of juice into the jar and then add 1/3 cup of sugar (optional) to each jar before filling them to a 1/4 inch headspace. If you are planning on using the juice for another project, as we did in our video (cherry jelly), then you want to leave it without the sugar. Emmaline never adds sugar to her canned juices.
Processing Cherry Juice:
After your jars are filled, place the lid and ring on fingertip tight and place them in the boiling water bath. Process for 15 minutes if at sea level. (Adjust the processing time if you are above 1000 feet.)
Drinking Cherry Juice
This video was part of another three-part video. Make sure you take a minute to watch 3 THINGS TO MAKE WITH !) POUNDS OF CHERRIES.