Sour cherries are the most popular choice for cherry desserts, such as cherry pie or cherry cobbler. These cherries have a relatively short shelf life, so if you have an abundant supply of the cherries it's best to can them. When properly canned, sour cherries can be stored for up to a year. The process for canning cherries can be time consuming due to the need to remove pits, but the techniques for completing the process are simple regardless of your experience with canning.
Wash the canning jars either in the dishwasher or sink. Use the "Sanitize" setting on your dishwasher if it has the option. Dump the cherries into a colander and rinse them under cold running water.
Remove the cherry pits with a pitter. This device is the most efficient way to remove the pits. If you do not have access to a pitter, you can either leave the pits in, or cut them out with a knife.
Decide what kind of liquid you want to store the cherries in. The most common choices are a homemade syrup, fruit juice or plain water.
Bring the chosen liquid to a boil in a large pot. The amount of liquid must be enough to barely cover the cherries when they are added to the pot. A general rule of thumb is to have ½ cup of liquid for each 12 oz. jar of cherries.
Add the cherries once the liquid comes to a boil. Let the cherries boil for five minutes. Remove the pot from the heat.
Ladle the cherries and liquid into the jars. Leave about ½ inch of space between the cherries and the top of the jar. Screw the lids on the jars.
Fill a canner with water and add the jars. Place the canner on the stove at high heat and let the water boil for 20 minutes.
Remove the jars from the heat and let them cool down to room temperature.