To start - you will need:
3.5 to 4 pounds of nanking cherries
1.75 ounce package of regular fruit pectin
4.5 cups of sugar
Cheesecloth (100% cotton)
7-10 half-pint regular canning jars (sanitized)
Step One - Rinse and stem cherries. Use cool water, but do not soak them. Put the clean cherries into an 8-10 quart pot, Dutch oven, or kettle.
Step Two: Add enough water to barely cover the cherries. The original recipe suggested about 3.5 cups, but my mom said too much water will water down the flavor of your jelly, so we added three cups and it didn't completely cover the cherries.
Step Four: Use a fine mesh sieve over a bowl and carefully pour the cherry mix in a bit at a time. Using a spoon or other tool (my grandma's old sieve has a wooden piece that came with it), press the mashed cherries through the sieve. You can discard the seeds and cooked skins. However, my 8 year old enjoyed eating the de-seeded skin pulp with a little sugar added. We also rinsed the cherry pits and will be using them to make a heat pack.
Step Seven: Use a 4-quart pot, heavy Dutch oven, or kettle, stir the 3.5 cups of cherry juice and the 1.75 ounces of pectin. Heat on High, stirring constantly, until the mixture comes to a rolling boil. Add the 4.5 cups of sugar, stirring to combine. Return to a boil, stirring constantly. Boil for one minute (keep stirring). Remove pot from heat.
Step Eight: Skim off the top layer of foam with a spoon. The recipe says to do this quickly, but I found that giving it about 20-30 seconds to cool down actually made spooning it out a little easier. We put it in a sauce bowl and used it as a sample taster.
Step Nine: Carefully pour or ladle the hot liquid into hot sterilized half-pint standard canning jars. Be sure to leave 1/4" headspace. Wipe the rims to insure a good seal, and adjust your lids. A note here, my mom put the sanitized jars into a pan of hot water (so the bottoms and sides were in the hot water but not the top or inside portion). She said this helps to make sure you don't break the glass when the hot jelly is poured in to the otherwise cold jars.
Step Ten: Process your jelly in a boiling water bath canner for five minutes. Time should only start when the water is boiling, and it should continue to boil throughout the entire processing time.
Step Eleven: Remove the jars from the boiling water. Cool them on wire racks. As they cool they will often make an audible "pop" when the lids suction in for a good seal. Once your jars are completely cooled, press each lid. If the center stays down, you're good to go. If it pops back up, repeat step ten or use those jars right away and refrigerate them.
All together, a wonderful first experience making jelly. I am fairly confident that I could do it at home next time if I can acquire a sieve. Check out the original recipe here.
Today we also got nine new baby bunnies! Kaelyn and Servine are both firt-time parents and now proven breeders. Looks like we have some color variations in this group. Pretty neat! I didn't dig more than to count babies and snap a photo.