When you want to save fresh cherries for later use, freezing them is the best option. However, it is important to know that the freezing process will cause some loss of texture. As a result, it is important to choose ripe cherries that are not overripe or unripe. Likewise, avoid freezing cherries that are nearing their expiration date. It is also recommended to choose larger cherries for freezing.
How to Freeze Fresh Cherries?
We have mastered the art of preserving fresh cherries so that we may utilize them in baking throughout the year because there is no way our family could consume that box in one or two weeks.
Every July, when the cherry delivery shows up at my door, it’s a race against time to consume, prepare for cooking, or freeze the fruit before it spoils.
Here are my top suggestions for preventing wasted fresh cherries from spoiling.
Washing fresh cherries is crucial for keeping them fresh and edible. Using plain, cool water will help remove most pesticides and other microbes from the fruit. But, there are a few things you must keep in mind to make the process as easy as possible. One of the most important tips is to always wash the produce when it is cold, as hot water can absorb harmful microbes.
It is possible to freeze cherries without pitting them. This will prevent them from deteriorating and spoiling before you can eat them. Simply wash the cherries well, remove the stems, and drain all the excess water. After that, place the cherries on a sheet pan and place them in the freezer until hard. Alternatively, you can freeze them directly on parchment paper. Then, you can take them out of the freezer at any time.
Before freezing, check if the cherries have any bruises. Cherries with bruises will spoil much more quickly than those that are not. Always wash the cherries thoroughly in cold water.
Remove the Stems and Pits
You can choose to pit the cherries either before or after freezing them; we’ll discuss the advantages and disadvantages of this choice in the section below. But in any case, the stems must be cut off.
Go to Step 3 if you’re bypassing the pitting. There are various methods you can use to remove the pits if you decide to do so:
- Use a cherry pitter tool, which removes the pit by driving a plunger through the cherry’s center.
- Employ chopsticks! Simply hold the cherry between your thumb and index finger, then carefully press the chopstick toward the pit from the stem end until it comes out of the opposite side of the cherry.
- Alternatively, you can split the cherries in half and scoop out the pit using the tip of a paring or tiny kitchen knife.
- Alternatively, you can use your fingers to rip each cherry in half and remove the pits. Even while this approach is less than ideal and messy, it still works.
Arrange the Cherries
Place the whole or cut-in-half cherries on your baking sheet that has been prepared with parchment, wax, or freezer paper after the cherries have been pitted (or not). The cherries should be arranged in a single layer with some space between each one and its neighbor to avoid them adhering together when they are being frozen.
Freeze the Cherries
The sheet of cherries should be placed in the freezer with caution, being sure to put them somewhere where they may stay flat and undisturbed. The cherries should be frozen after a few hours. The size of the cherries will determine how long it takes to freeze; smaller cherries might freeze in an hour or two, while larger cherries might take longer.
Repackage the Cherries
You can put your cherries in any freezer-friendly, airtight container once they have completely frozen! If you decide to use freezer bags, make sure to squeeze them as tightly as you can to eliminate as much air as you can because doing so will assist to avoid freezer burn and ice crystallization. To make it simple to know what you have and when it was made, take a moment to label and date your packets of frozen cherries.
Ideas for Using Frozen Cherries
Consume them whole! A fresh cherry is nature’s sweet, and freezing them is one technique to improve an already excellent delicacy, particularly in the sweltering summer.
No need to defrost frozen cherries before using them in baked dishes like our Black Forest Cherry Muffins! The frozen cherries need only be roughly chopped and added to the muffin batter.
Pour a few whole frozen cherries into any glass of water, sparkling water, or juice for a cool, refreshing drink that has an added perk: the cherries at the bottom are yours to enjoy!
If you have a little additional time, you may make your cherry pie filling using your frozen cherries instead of using store-bought in our vegan cherry fruit bars! Simply cook cherries and unflavored sugar (to taste) in a saucepan until the mixture is syrupy. For every cup of cherries used, stir in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch, then cook for a few more minutes until thickened. Pie filling is prepared for use!
Make your next batch of overnight oats with chopped frozen cherries, and you’ll wake up to a meal that is bursting with all the benefits of cherries and flavored with their exquisitely sweet-tart flavor.
To give any smoothie or fresh juice an extra dose of cherry taste and beautiful red color, add a few frozen cherries before mixing.
How to Defrost Frozen Cherries?
As you can see, whether you are eating cherries plain or using them in a dish, you can often enjoy them directly from the freezer. However, there are a few alternative methods you can use to defrost them if you find that you must:
In the Refrigerator Overnight
This defrosting technique is as simple as (cherry) pie! Simply remove your freezer bag or another frozen cherry container from the freezer and store it in the refrigerator for 6 to 8 hours, or overnight if you can. This not only makes the cherries safer but also improves their texture and flavor as they progressively defrost.
Submerge in Cold Water
If you need your cherries right away or, like me, forgot to take them out of the freezer the previous evening, this method is perfect for you. Make sure the fruit is in a waterproof, resealable plastic bag because if you put frozen cherries directly in cold water, they will lose some of their exquisite flavors. The bag of frozen cherries should be placed in a bowl of ice-cold water after any extra air has been removed from the packaging. Depending on the size of your cherry, leave it on your countertop to thaw out in 15-20 minutes.
Using hot or lukewarm water to defrost the fruit could encourage quick bacterial growth, thus it’s crucial to use cold water for this method of thawing. The safest method for warming food is always cool and gradual.
Reference: Effect of ripeness and postharvest storage on the evolution of color and anthocyanins in cherries (Prunus avium L.)
How Long do Frozen Cherries Last?
When kept correctly and in the refrigerator, cherries have a respectable shelf life compared to other fresh fruits, lasting around a week. If this isn’t quite long enough though, or if you have a lot of cherries on your hands, freezing them will extend their lives by a longshot. Cherries can be stored for up to a year in a deep freezer or for six months in a standard freezer.
Why is it Important to Wash the Cherries?
Washing your fresh food is always a good idea, however, some fruits and vegetables require it more than others. Because cherries are infamously prone to pests and disease, farmers frequently use specific pesticides and chemicals to safeguard their priceless crops. Cherries frequently appear on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, which highlights the product proven to have the highest concentration of pesticide residue. In addition to using pesticides and chemical fertilizers, handling the fruit can always expose it to germs and other infections.
The good news is that thoroughly rinsing your cherries under cold running water has been demonstrated to remove a significant amount of impurities without the use of any special soap or fruit wash. Cherries should be thoroughly dried after cleaning by spreading them out on a kitchen towel before freezing.
Are Frozen Cherries as Healthy as Fresh?
There is no denying that cherries are loaded with health advantages! Each serving of fresh cherries offers a significant amount of vitamin C, dietary fiber, anthocyanins, and carotenoids, proving that good things may come in little packages.
Numerous of these substances function as antioxidants in the body, protecting cells from oxidative stress and, possibly, some types of cancer. Unfortunately, antioxidants are susceptible to cold, so freezing may cause some of these substances to disappear. But don’t worry, there will be enough left!
How Long do Cherries Last After you Pick them?
We went cherry-picking for pleasure a few years back. I was unaware of the excellent pickers I had with me. Over 60 pounds were ours.
- Cherries last 4 to 10 days in the refrigerator before becoming bad.
- In your regular freezer, frozen cherries will keep for up to 6 months; in a deep freezer, they will keep for a year.
There was no way we were going to eat more than 60 pounds in a week, despite how rapidly these (and all the other items) went in our house. I had to figure out how to freeze cherries because of this. So that we might experience summer all year round.
Although cherry season only lasts for a few months, you can harvest a lot during the optimum time and freeze it for later. This way, regardless of the season, you may enjoy them as tasty frozen treats, combine them into a smoothie, or bake them in a mouthwatering pie!
While the process of pitting them is typically the most difficult step, we’ve provided you with some cool and practical advice to make the task easier.
You just need to select your chosen approach, and you may keep them in your freezer for up to a year!