Can you freeze cherries? Whether you prefer them sweet or sour, you don’t have to wait until summer to enjoy cherries! You can freeze them. Too often, people only eat cherries seasonally.
You can safely store them year-round via canning and freezing methods. Pick or purchase cherries in bulk during the season when they are discounted or available from a certain area and then store them away to enjoy their wonderful taste any time of the year as a standalone snack or an ingredient in your favorite recipes.
As with you other soft fruits that contain pits — stone fruits like peaches and mangoes, frozen cherries last longer and are fantastic in both cold and hot dishes. Pop frozen cherries in your mouth or blend them into smoothies or ice cream when you need a cold snack. Defrost whole or frozen syrup-packed cherries to add to recipes or top a favorite cake or pie.
The freezing process does make cherries softer and sometimes even mushy when completely defrosted, but the benefit of having them on hand far outweighs any slight differences in texture. Frozen cherries also retain their nutritional value better than canned ones.
Image used under Creative Commons from Quinn Dombrowski
How to Freeze Cherries?
There are several freezer storage methods. As with other fruits, you can freeze them as juice or in meals. In those cases, follow your preferred methods. In all other cases, use the baking sheet or syrup-packed methods.
Do note that moisture pulled from whole cherries as they freeze turns into ice crystals. This process can affect taste. As a result, it’s best to select ripe, unbruised, dark-colored cherries as soon as they’re harvested to help retain their appearance and taste.
It’s also wise to remove the pits — especially if you plan to use the cherries straight out of the freezer without any type of preparation or if you have small children. A cherry pit is a choking hazard and it can crack and break teeth. Below is a step by step guide on how can you freeze cherries:
Baking Sheet Method
The baking sheet method is used to rapidly freeze the cherries to help prevent shrinkage and ice crystal formation.
Remove the stems and pits. Gently wash them and then use a paper towel to blot them completely dry. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place the sheet in your freezer for about two hours.
Remove it as soon as the cherries are frozen and pack them immediately in airtight bags or freezer-safe containers. Place the bags or containers in your freezer.
If you use bags, press the air out before sealing them. If you use containers, shake them gently to make the cherries settle and packing easier.
If you want pieces rather than whole cherries, always freeze them whole. It’s easier to cut up frozen cherries and use them cold or defrosted then to cut them beforehand. You also prevent juice loss this way.
The syrup-packed method is typically used with sweet cherries to help retain their taste. It also gives you a previously prepared sweet cherry mixture whenever you need to save time.
Clean 4 cups of cherries. Bring 4 cups water and 1 cup sugar to a rolling boil. Add the cherries, wait for the syrupy mixture to reach a rolling boil again and then set it aside to cool until it reaches room temperature.
Pour or ladle the mixture into freezer jars or plastic containers leaving 1/2 inch of space at the top for smaller containers, or 1 inch for larger ones, to prevent the lid from popping off when the mixture expands. Make certain the cherries are completely covered in syrup. Place the containers in your freezer.
If you have diabetes, hypoglycemia or a similar condition, or you don’t like sugar, use 1/2 cup of your preferred sweetener. You can also make the quality of the cherries better by adding 1/2 teaspoon of 1500 mg ascorbic acid to the water at the initial boiling stage.
Image used under Creative Commons from Brian Child
How to Defrost Frozen Cherries?
Whole cherries last approximately eight months before they get freezer burn. They sometimes keep for up to 10 months, but you should regularly check them. Syrup-packed cherries can last up to a whole year. Total thawing can take minutes to hours depending on the storage method.
Fresh cherries aren’t available all year round so it’s great to know that you can freeze this fruit today and enjoy the cherries anytime you want. Now that you know how can you freeze cherries, you can stock up on this fruit without fears of spoiling while stored in the freezer.