Cherries are deep red spheres of popping fruity flavor harvested during the summer months.
Being seasonal fruits makes purchasing imported varieties during other times of the year very expensive. The good news is that you can freeze cherries to prolong their shelf life.
This makes it possible to enjoy summer goodness year-round and also allows you to make use of great summer prices on your favorite berry-like fruits.
There are a few things you will want to take into account to ensure your cherries preserve well for long-term enjoyment.
Here is everything you need to know about freezing cherries.
Types of Cherries
When thinking of cherries, one usually thinks of deep red, small sweet fruits. Cherries, however, vary in color and flavor depending on the variety.
The most common types of cherries are sweet dark red Bing cherries, as well as, Rainier cherries which have a yellow-pink color even when ripe. Cherries can also be sour or tart.
Sour varieties include Montmorency, Morello, and Royal Anne cherries. Sour type cherries are usually cooked down with sugar syrup and used in pies as opposed to being eaten fresh.
Cherries are versatile fruits that can be eaten as is, in fruit salad, canned, dried, cooked into compotes, jams, and baked into muffins, cakes, and pies. Although commonly used in sweet dishes, cherries are also incorporated into savory dishes, sauces, salads, and cheese platters.
Can I Freeze Cherries?
Yes, cherries can be frozen successfully. Due to the formation of ice crystals on freezing, the fruit cell walls will damage causing a change in texture. This means that the cherries won’t be as firm once thawed and will have a softer texture than their fresh counterparts.
Slightly softer cherries are, however, fantastic for use in any baked products, sauces, compotes, jams, tarts, fillings, and smoothies. Pitted cherries can even be eaten as little frozen snacks.
The larger cherries are the best ones for freezing. Ensure that the cherries are properly ripe, but not overripe. The better the condition of the cherry on freezing, the better the condition of the cherry will be once thawed.
If your cherries are not ripe or are nearing their expiry date, do not freeze them as this will not yield a pleasant result.
How To Freeze Cherries
Step 1: Clean
Sort the cherries by removing any bruised, overripe or underripe ones from the batch. Remove the stem and give the cherries a good rinse.
Dry the cherries with a clean kitchen- or paper towel as any excess moisture will cause freezer burn and unwanted textural changes on freezing.
Step 2: Pit
Pit the cherries using a pitter. If you do not have a pitter, you can try a handy trick using a piping nozzle. Piping tips of any size are available in the baking section at general stores or from a baking specialty store.
Cherries should be room temperature for easy pitting.
Place the nozzle with the wide end at the bottom and the pointy side facing upwards. Place the cherry on the pointy end of the piping tip. The part where the stem was attached should face downward pressing against the small opening on the top of the piping tip.
Press the cherry downwards against the nozzle. The pit will pop out the top as you gently press the cherry down. Repeat with all the cherries and discard the pits.
Step 3: Flash Freeze
Spread the pitted cherries out on a lined baking sheet in a single layer. Put the baking sheet in the freezer until the cherries are completely frozen. This allows the cherries to freeze evenly and prevents them from clumping together.
Step 4: Pack
Remove the frozen cherries from the baking sheet and pack them into resealable freezer bags. Press all the remaining air out of the bag before sealing tightly.
Step 5: Label and Freeze
Label the bag with the date and place it in the freezer.
How To Thaw Frozen Cherries
Frozen cherries can be used without thawing. Whether adding them to a smoothie, making a sauce on the stovetop, or using them in a batter, they can be used from frozen.
If you prefer to thaw the cherries, remove them from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator to thaw for a few hours. Alternatively, place the sealed packet in a cold water bath to speed up the thawing process.
Whether you are eating them as little frozen treats, blending them into smoothies, baking them in a pie, or cooking them for a sauce or compote, cherries are a great item to have stocked up in the freezer. Conveniently, they don’t even need to be thawed before using.
Freezing cherries saves on waste and money, allows you to make use of in-season summer specials, and saves loads of preparation time when you are ready to use them in the future. Freeze these little bursts of sweet fruity flavor and enjoy the taste of summer all year round.
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