Bursting with flavor and natural sweetness, cherries are one of the fruits I just can’t ever get enough of.
I love whenever it’s cherry season and I can’t help but hunger for their wonderful bite and lovely taste in my ice cream or cherry cobbler and cherry pie every now and then when they aren’t.
That’s why I decided to look for ways to preserve the fresh fruit so I always have a bunch of them handy to satisfy my cravings whenever I feel like it.
Read on to learn what I found!
Can you freeze cherries?
Like many other fruits, cherries are super easy to freeze.
Fresh cherries, once prepped properly, will keep well in the freezer for up to six months to even a year.
Freezing these stone fruits is a simple and convenient way to preserve their taste and nutritional value.
Just take out the amount you need from the freezer, allow it to thaw or throw it in whatever you plan on using them for and you’re good to go!
What you need
Before we get right into the freezing process, you’re going to have to gather all these essential items you’ll use for the process:
- Fresh cherries: Fresh cherries are an absolute must for this process; for them to stay fresh, they have to be fresh! Start by getting ripe cherries that are firm and are free from bruises or blemishes. Choose sweet or sour cherries based on your preference.
- Paring knife or cherry pitter: To remove the cherry pits from the cherries, a pairing knife or cherry pitter would work fine. A cherry pitter is the more efficient tool but if you haven’t got one, a pairing knife would work as a good substitute too.
- Baking sheet: Before you store the cherries in containers in the freezer, you’ll need to flash-freeze them first. A rimmed baking sheet will help you freeze cherries individually before storing them in containers.
- Parchment paper: We wouldn’t want our cherries to get stuck on our baking sheet when we flash-freeze them! That’s why some parchment paper to place over the baking tray before placing the cherries would do just fine. A silicon baking mat would also be great for this.
- Plastic containers or freezer bags: These are a necessity for storing frozen cherries to make sure they stay safe for consumption. Opt for airtight containers or heavy-duty freezer bags to prevent freezer burn.
- Lemon juice (optional): Lemon juice is a pretty handy ingredient here that can help preserve the cherries’ color and flavor, especially if you’re using sweet cherries instead of sour cherries.
Now that you have everything you need, let’s move on to preparing your cherries for freezing!
How to prep your cherries for freezing
- Wash and sort: Start by rinsing the fresh cherries under cold water. Gently pat them dry with a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel. It’s important you sort through the cherries, discarding any damaged, overripe or bad cherries.
- Pitting cherries: To pit cherries, you have two options. Using a cherry pitter is the quickest and easiest method. Simply place the cherry in the pitter and press down to remove the pit. Alternatively, you can use a paring knife. Make a small incision around the cherry, twist it open, and remove the pit with the tip of the knife.
- Optional lemon juice: If you want to maintain the cherries’ vibrant color and sweet taste, toss them in a bowl with a bit of lemon juice. Use about one tablespoon of lemon juice for every four cups of cherries. Gently mix to coat the cherries evenly.
How to freeze cherries
Now that your cherries are prepped, it’s time to freeze them properly:
- Single layer freezing: Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Arrange the pitted cherries in a single layer on the sheet, ensuring they don’t touch each other. This initial freezing step prevents them from clumping together in the storage container.
- Flash freeze: Place the baking sheet with cherries in the freezer for a few hours or until the cherries are completely frozen and hard to the touch. This usually takes about 2-4 hours.
- Pack into containers: Once the cherries are frozen solid, transfer them to airtight plastic containers or heavy-duty freezer bags. Remember to remove as much air from the freezer-safe storage material as possible to prevent freezer burn. Label the containers with the date for reference.
- Store in freezer: Place the sealed containers in the freezer. Cherries can be stored for up to 6-12 months, but for the best quality, try to use them within the first 6 months.
And there you have it! Whether you want to use the cherries in pies, for some cherry compote, or just about any dessert you’re craving, you’ll always have a nice batch of some handy for just that!
How do you store fresh cherries in the freezer
To freeze fresh cherries in the freezer, just follow these simple steps:
- Wash the fresh, ripe and firm cherries under cool running water, removing the stems and throwing away any damaged ones. Pat them dry with a kitchen towel.
- Pit the cherries and place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet that’ll fit into your freezer.
- Freeze the cherries for about 2-4 hours before transferring them to freezer-safe bags or containers. Remove all air from these before labeling them with a date and finally storing your cherries in the freezer.
Do freezing cherries make them sweeter?
Just as freezing cherries change their texture, it also alters their flavor. That’s why your cherries might taste somewhat sweeter after they’ve been frozen and brought out to thaw.
Don’t worry, this happens to many other fruits like pineapples (here’s an article on how to freeze pineapples by the way), and won’t be an issue for whatever you plan on using the cherries for.
What happens when you freeze cherries?
Freezing cherries means you’re freezing the water in its cells. Since water expands when it freezes, the ice crystals formed cause the cell walls of the cherries to break and lose their structure.
This is why the texture and taste of frozen cherries is usually different from that of fresh ones.
Is it better to freeze cherries with or without pits?
It’s much better to freeze cherries without pits so it can be much more convenient to use the fruit as they are. Plus, it just saves you the stress of having to pit them when you’re finally ready to have your fruits.
Do frozen cherries taste good?
Wondering if cherries are good frozen and if they’re still healthy? The answer is yes! Frozen cherries still taste amazing and I personally prefer them in my smoothies instead of fresh ones.
They aren’t as nice eaten raw so I either whirl them into healthy drinks or have them in my pastries.
Are frozen cherries as good as fresh?
According to this article on whether cherries are good for you, the frozen fruit is said to contain fewer antioxidants, but frozen cherries are still great.
Their texture and taste might differ from fresh ones slightly, making them somewhat unfit for some recipes but they’re still healthy, filled with flavor and good to use!
Now, wasn’t that great? You’ve got yourself a stash of frozen cherries ready to add a burst of summer to your dishes throughout the year.
Whether you’re making pies, or smoothies, or simply enjoying them as a frozen snack, these frozen cherries will bring a touch of sunshine to your table, even in the coldest months.
Cherish the taste of summer, one frozen cherry at a time!
And, if you’d like to cherish even more fresh produce when they’re out of season, have a look at how you can freeze quinoa, how you can preserve broccoli in the freezer, if beetroot can be frozen and even on other food types like how to store ginger in the freezer.
How to freeze cherries
- Fresh cherries
- Wash, pat dry, and sort cherries, discarding any damaged ones.
- Pit cherries using a cherry pitter or a paring knife.
- Optionally, toss cherries with lemon juice for color and flavor preservation.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Arrange pitted cherries in a single layer on the sheet.
- Flash freeze in the freezer for 2-4 hours until solid.
- Transfer frozen cherries to airtight containers or freezer bags, removing excess air.
- Label containers with the date.
- Store in the freezer for up to 6-12 months for best quality. Enjoy in various desserts!