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Questions? Write me at fullcirclegardener @ cableone . net.

Preserving Backyard Fruit: Nanking Cherry Jelly

A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the robins were spending a lot of time in our nanking cherry bushes so I went out to investigate.  Sure enough, the cherries were turning red and it was time to get the bushes covered.  Our bushes have gotten tall enough that I now have to 'sew' two 14ft wide nets together with twistie ties before I drape them over the bushes.  I also have to be sure that the net is secured to the ground at all points or the intrepid robins find their way in.

Earlier this week I noticed that a robin had found its way under the net but couldn't get out.  When I went to help it out, I found that most of the cherries were bright red and juicy... it was time to harvest! :)  The kids and I spent a couple of hours harvesting and got 3 ice cream buckets from 3.5 bushes.  I have to harvest the remaining bushes yet, but my fridge can only hold so many ice cream buckets so I spent time processing cherries into juice and then into jelly.  We love nanking cherry jelly/jam and syrup in our home and since we have syrup left from last year, I made jelly. 

First step: Remove the juice from the fruit.
1.  Wash and remove debris.

2.  Just cover the fruit with water and cook until the skin on the fruit starts to split.  (For this batch it took about 30 minutes.)

3. Remove the seeds and skins from the fruit.  I use an old fashion food mill and a little one anxious to help. ;)

Note: If you are looking for a clear, county fair blue ribbon product, you will want to strain the juice trough several layers of cheese cloth to remove the pulp.  I love the texture the pulp gives to the jelly and syrup.  I also cannot imagine wasting any of the fruit, so we mash out as much pulp as we can.

Second Step: Turn the juice into jelly.
1. Gather supplies and recipe.  I used Ball No Sugar Added Pectin this year and adjusted the 'sour cherry' recipe on the insert to fit my family.
Nanking Cherry Jelly
4 c juice
2 c sugar
1 pkg powdered pectin

2.  Stir the pectin into the juice in a 6-8 quart stock pot.  Heat to a rolling boil (cannot be stirred down) and quickly add all of the sugar.  Stirring continually, bring it back to a rolling boil.  Once at rolling boil, cook for one minute and immediately remove it from the heat.

3.  Skim off foam and ladle into 1 pint jars to within 1/4 inch of the top.  Adjust lids and process in a boiling water bath for 5 minutes (for everyone under 1000 ft elevation).
4.  Cool and check lids for seal.  Reprocess or refrigerate unsealed jars. 

Third step: Label and store in a cool dry location.

And that is it!  What is better than turning the fruits of your labor into something that your whole family will enjoy for months to come!

Happy Gardening and Preserving! :D

Post image for Old Fashioned Recipe Exchange 7/17


  1. This recipe is AMAZING!!!!! It is my favorite yet! The yield may be lower than some other recipes (I got 5 half pints, compared to 7 in other recipes), but the flavor is SUPERIOR, and the ease makes it worthwhile. I highly recommend. Thank you so much! Caroline from Montana

    1. Thank you Caroline. I'm glad that you enjoyed it. :)


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