Cherries are one of the best parts of summer. Fresh, ripe, juicy berries mean summer is in full swing. Thanks to creative harvesting, cherries are available from early May through August. There is an extensive array of cherry varieties available today. Bing cherries are probably the most recognizable with their deep red color and trademark heart shape. Rainier cherries are also popular with their yellow skin and flesh with a slight blush. Although these many varieties have subtle flavor and color differences, the classic juicy sweet goodness is universal throughout. Nothing beats lounging on a hot summer day with a bowl of fresh picked cherries and popping them straight into your mouth. It’s a perfect summertime dessert. But what happens when September comes around and the extremely perishable cherries have disappeared from the produce aisle altogether? Fresh baked cherry pie is a delicious holiday treat and cherry sangria is always welcome in my home.
Can You Freeze Cherries
Freezing is the perfect solution to preserving those delicious jewels of summer. Thawed cherries will not hold the same texture as a fresh cherry but they work perfectly in recipes.
How To Freeze Cherries
Freezing cherries is a relatively easy process with one hurtle. The pits. It is a nightmare to try to pit thawed cherries so getting that out of the way up front is vital. There are a wide variety of ways to pit cherries. The most obvious method is to use a cherry pitter, and honestly they work great. However, maybe this is your first attempt at freezing cherries and you have no interest in investing in this “one use” item. I’m with you on that. So let’s talk about alternatives. The reality is that the cherries don’t need to look perfect after you remove the pit so simply cutting them in half with a paring knife and popping out the pit works great. I don’t really love this method because my fingers get slippery and honestly I get bored and I’m afraid I’ll cut my fingers off. My absolute favorite cherry pitting method is to use a chopstick. We always have extra chopsticks lying around because we love sushi! This method could not be easier. It actually works the same way a cherry pitter works. Simply remove the stem, place the chopstick on the top of the cherry and push through. The pit will pop right out the bottom. Easy as cherry pie! So just pick your favorite method and get those pits out.
At this point there are two options for freezing the cherries. The first option is to place them on a cookie sheet on a single layer place them in the freezer for an hour or two. Then remove them from the freezer and place them in freezer safe plastic bags. I put about 1 cup or so per bag. I think this method is perfect for using the cherries in beverages or even partially thawed on ice cream.
Syrup pack freezing is another option for preserving cherries. This option works very well for cherries that will be cooked in recipes or used to make pie. Simply bring 4 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar to a boil. Add 4 cups of cherries and simmer for a few minutes. Pour or ladle mixture in to freezer safe containers making sure the cherries are completely covered. Leave a little room in the container to allow for expansion. Seal the container and place in the freezer.
Be sure to remember to label each bag or container. The frozen cherries will last in the freezer for about 12 months but they will still be safe to eat after that time.
How To Thaw Cherries
Thawing the frozen cherries is a breeze. Simply pop the container or bag out of the freezer and put in the fridge overnight.
There are so many delicious ways to use cherries throughout the year. I’m thinking of salmon with a sweet cherry sauce or a delicious cherry tart. My husband loves sorbet and homemade cherry is a remarkably yummy flavor. The possibilities are endless so freeze them up and enjoy!