Unfortunately one of my favorite treats has a very short shelf life and are sometimes hard to keep fresh. Cherries are oh so good – especially in the summer, but their short shelf life make it difficult to enjoy them as long as I would like.
That is why I tested a few ways to store cherries so I could benefit from their awesomness for longer durations.
To help you keep your stash of summer cherries longer, we’ll give you the vital information you need to know. Use these methods to store your cherries safely and keep them tasting delicious!
Why You Should Properly Store Your Cherries
Cherries, like many fruits, are prone to spoiling if they are not prepared and stored correctly.
Cherries do not do well in warm or room temperature conditions and will quickly lose their delicious, juicy taste. So, it is best to keep them refrigerated if they are not being eaten immediately.
They should also be kept dry, if at all possible.
Cherries are also known to absorb water or moisture easily, which can change their taste and texture. Be sure you keep them away from liquids at all costs.
It is also recommended by many food professionals that you wait until right before using or serving cherries to wash them.
Freshly picked or bought cherries last only about two days at room temperature.
However, it is essential that they are not exposed to sunshine unless you plan on drying them, as this allows them to deteriorate more quickly. Keep them in a cool and dark place until used.
The refrigerator will make them last quite a bit longer. They will last about three to five days, or for up to a week on rare occasions, when kept in the refrigerator.
What Are Some Ways to Store Cherries?
Learning how to store cherries the right way isn’t all that difficult. It can usually be done within a few hours, ensuring that you have delectable cherries to eat for quite a while longer.
However, none of the methods of how to store cherries matter if they aren’t picked and chosen with care.
When picking out cherries, either from the store or off the tree, look for ones that are firm, plump, and deep in color.
These will be the freshest and sweetest! Also make sure to not choose ones with blemishes, cuts, or bruises. If at all possible, leave the stems attached to keep them fresher longer.
Storing Cherries Temporarily
If you plan on eating them within the next few days, it is alright to keep them in the refrigerator.
However, they should be washed and dried first for optimal freshness. Make sure to also keep them in a separate airtight container while storing in the refrigerator, as they can easily absorb moisture and flavors from surrounding food items.
After all, you want the fresh taste of cherries, not garlic or tomatoes!
This is the best way to store cherries so they’ll stay fresh and last for longer than a week or so and the process is relatively simple.
Once you have acquired your cherries, you will need to wash and dry them.
You can also pit them if you would like. This is not a required step, though many people claim that leaving the pits in the cherries gives them an almond flavor.
This is an entirely personal choice.
You may want to try processing your cherries both ways to see which version you prefer. You also have the option to leave the stems intact or to detach them.
To freeze cherries alone, your washed and dried cherries should first be placed on a baking sheet in a single layer and put in the freezer for 1-2 hours.
This action allows them to become firm enough that they won’t stick together and dries out any liquids that may allow them to clump together.
After an hour or two, they can be taken out and placed in plastic freezer bags or airtight containers. Make sure to remove as much air as possible to avoid freezer burn.
If you have a freeze dryer, you can prep your cherries the same way.
Sweet cherries can be frozen in syrup as well.
Storing them this way requires you to add three cups of sugar to four cups of water and mix in ½ a teaspoon of citrus juice or ascorbic acid per quart of liquid. Then mix this syrup into your cherries carefully in airtight bags and freeze.
Similarly, whole pitted sour cherries can be frozen with ¾ of a cup of sugar for every quart of cherries. Carefully stir the cherries and sugar together until the sugar is dissolved and then place in freezing containers. Leave about ½ an inch of headspace in airtight containers or to remove as much as possible from plastic freezer bags.
Frozen cherries can last for up to a year.
How to Store Cherries by Oven
Drying is a favorite option for those who love dried fruits. These are an excellent and healthy snack for year-round pleasure and make a great addition to trail mixes or sweet treats like cookies and bars.
There are two methods to learn how to store cherries this way.
The most common is to dry them in the oven. Preheat your oven to 165 degrees F. While you are waiting for this to warm up you can wash, prepare, and dry your cherries.
Use room temperature water for this. If you choose to, you may also pit your cherries. This step is not required; however, just as with any other cherry preparation, some prefer to do so.
After your cherries are washed and pitted, they will need to be dried off. Use paper towels to complete this task. Afterward, arrange your cherries on a baking sheet, leaving about a half of an inch space in between them.
This is to make sure they do not stick together at all during the drying process.
When your cherries are prepared, and the oven is ready, it’s time to put them in. However, turn your oven down to 135 degrees F first. You want your cherries to dry out completely, not cook. Therefore, a lower temperature for a more extended period is suggested. At this temperature, they should dry in the oven for about 6 hours and will look like raisins when they are done.
To store your dried fruits, cherries should be frozen. Place them in containers or plastic freezer bags and remove as much air as possible as this allows them to last longer. Using this method, they can be stored for up to a year.
How to Store Cherries by Sun-drying
The other method of drying cherries is to let them naturally dry out in the sun. As with the first-mentioned method, they should first be washed, pitted, and dried.
Pitting is not an option here, as the sun will allow the pit to alter the taste of the cherry somewhat.
After they are prepared, place them in an area where they will get plenty of sunlight at room temperature. Leave them for two to five days until they look like raisins.
To avoid any bacteria, it is recommended that you place them in the oven on a low temperature for about 30 minutes.
Afterward, you may eat them immediately or store them in the freezer as in the method mentioned above. Dried cherries can last for as long as 18 months if left unopened.
For those who have many cherries on hand, try canning them in pre-made mixtures. You can make a cherry pie filling, pickled cherries, or even cherry jam or jelly.
These can then be canned in glass jars using a pressure cooker or hot water bath and be stored for up to a year.
If you’re not sure where to get started with canning, here’s one of my favorite beginner’s guides. You’ll have your own home canning factory up and running in no time!
How to Tell If Your Cherries Are Still Fresh
Fresh cherries should be firm, clean and bright. Throw out any that are mushy, bruised, or blemished. Also, pay close attention to any mold growth. This growth typically starts from where the stem was attached and spreads quickly throughout the rest of the cherries.
If you have frozen your cherries, their color will most likely be a little duller once they have been thawed or defrosted. They will also be much softer. It is for this reason that many thawed cherries are used for baking.
They can be used in their frozen state for a variety of treats such as in smoothies or iced beverages. They can even be used in place of ice or eaten plain for a cold summer snack.
Cherries can and will last much longer, bringing you months or even years of enjoyment, if you have learned how to store cherries the right way.
After all who doesn’t enjoy cherries all year round? Follow these simple steps to store your cherries this growing season. Soon you will be experiencing cherry jams, jellies, pies, fruit cakes, drink garnishes, and smoothies anytime you want, no matter what season it is!
Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.