Can you freeze cherries? Whether you prefer them sweet or tart, you don’t have to wait until summer to enjoy cherries! You can freeze them. Too often people only eat cherries seasonally.
They can be kept safe all year round by freezing and canning them. Pick or buy cherries in bulk during season when they’re on discount or available in a certain area, then store them away to enjoy their wonderful flavor any time of year as a standalone snack or as an ingredient in your favorite recipes.
Like you other berry 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 mix them into smoothies or ice cream when you need a cold snack. Thaw whole or frozen cherries wrapped in syrup for adding to recipes or topping a favorite cake or pie.
While the freezing process does make cherries softer and sometimes even mushy once they’re fully thawed, the benefit of having them on hand far outweighs any small differences in texture. Frozen cherries also retain their nutritional value better than canned cherries.
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How do you freeze cherries?
There are several methods of deep freeze storage. As with other fruits, you can freeze them as a juice or in meals. In these cases, follow your preferred methods. In all other cases, use the baking sheet or syrup packaging.
Note that moisture drawn from whole cherries as they freeze turns into ice crystals. This process can affect the taste. Therefore, it’s best to select ripe, uncrushed, dark-colored cherries immediately after picking so they retain their appearance and flavor.
It’s also a good idea to remove the pits – especially if you plan on using the cherries straight from the freezer without any prep, or if you have young children. A cherry pit is a choking hazard and can crack and crack teeth. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to freeze cherries:
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Baking Sheet Method
The baking sheet method is used to freeze the cherries quickly to prevent shrinkage and ice crystal formation.
Remove the stems and dimples. Wash them gently and then pat them completely dry with a paper towel. Arrange them in a single layer on a baking sheet and place the sheet in the freezer for about two hours.
Remove as soon as the cherries are frozen and pack them in airtight bags or freezer-safe containers immediately. Place the bags or containers in your freezer.
If using bags, squeeze out the air before sealing. If using containers, shake them gently to help the cherries settle and pack more easily.
If you want chunks instead of whole cherries, always freeze them whole. It’s easier to cut up frozen cherries and use them cold or thawed than to cut them up first. This way you also prevent juice loss.
The syrup-packed method is typically used with sweet cherries to preserve their flavor. Plus, it gives you a pre-prepared sweet cherry mix 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 come to a rolling boil again, then allow to cool until it comes to room temperature.
Pour or scoop the mixture into freezer jars or plastic containers, leaving 1/2 inch clearance at the top for smaller containers or 1 inch for larger containers to prevent the lid from popping off as the mixture expands. Make sure the cherries are completely covered in syrup. Place the containers in your freezer.
If you have diabetes, hypoglycemia, a similar condition, or don’t like sugar, use 1/2 cup of your favorite sweetener. You can also improve the quality of the cherries by adding 1/2 teaspoon of 1500 mg ascorbic acid to the water at the initial boiling stage.
How do I thaw frozen cherries?
Whole cherries will keep for about eight months before they develop freezer burn. Sometimes they have a shelf life of up to 10 months, but you should check them regularly. Cherries packed in syrup can last up to a year. Complete thawing can take minutes to hours depending on the storage method.
Fresh cherries aren’t available all year round, so it’s good to know that you can freeze this fruit today and enjoy the cherries anytime. Now that you know how to freeze cherries, you can stock up on this fruit without fear of it spoiling during storage in the freezer.