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 the sweet taste of summer cherry season all year round. It 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 you preserve cherries 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 are sweet cherries such as dark red Bing cherries, as well as, Rainier cherries which have a bright yellow-pink color even when ripe. The biggest cherries are usually the best cherries, with a great juicy sweetness.
Cherries can also be sour or tart. Sour varieties include Montmorency, Morello, and Royal Anne cherries. Sour 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 Cherries Be Frozen?
Yes, you can freeze fresh cherries for a host of delicious uses in the future. 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 goods, 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 ripe cherries by removing any bruised, overripe or underripe ones from the batch. Remove the stems and wash the cherries.
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 Cherries
Pitting cherries is time consuming but with the right tools you can speed up the process significantly.
The easiest way is to pit the cherries using a pitter. If you do not have a cherry 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 out the pitted cherries in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. If they are halved cherries you can lay the cut side down to prevent them from rolling around.
Place the cookie sheet in the freezer until the cherries are completely frozen. This allows the cherries to freeze evenly and prevents them from clumping together during the freezing process.
Step 4: Pack
Remove the frozen cherries from the baking sheet and pack them into resealable freezer bags. Press out as much air as possible before sealing the bag tightly. Alternatively you can also use an airtight container, however, bags are a little more space-saving.
Step 5: Label and Freeze
Label each freezer bag with the date and place the cherries 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, you can use frozen cherries straight from the freezer.
If you prefer to thaw the pitted cherries first, remove them from the freezer and place them in the refrigerator to defrost for a few hours. Alternatively, place the sealed packet in a cold water bath to speed up the thawing process. Thawed cherries are great for making overnight oats.
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 waste, money, and allows you to make use of in-season summer specials. It allows you to save time on preparation when you need to use the sweet cherries in the future. If cherries are one of your favorite fruits and you miss them during the off-season, you now know how to freeze these little bursts of fruity flavor for a taste of summer all year round.
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