Apparently I was thinking of the 1966 Neil Diamond song when I was came up with a title for this post. My intentions were to avoid something like “How to Freeze Cherries” which can be so bland and boring, right?
So, the weekend of July 4th this year brought several new adventures for me – I learned to make simple syrup and I learned how to freeze fresh cherries. Freezing cherries was completely an accidental discovery. Here’s the backstory.
The summer is a great time for fresh fruits and vegetables; we all know that! The cherries we had been getting were particularly good and as such we bought a few more packages. My mistake was that I assumed each was going to be as sweet as the last. Well, that last package just wasn’t sweet enough to eat, but definitely good to cook with. What to do? A little quick research told me I could freeze them for later use – fabulous idea! I could then figure out what to do with them later.
So, I thought I’d share what I learned – it’s not everyday you learn to freeze cherries, right?
You will definitely need a cherry pitter – one of the greatest inventions of all time! You can pit most olives, cherries, and just about anything else that fits inside! Caution: Keep your fingers OUT of the way – we learned the hard way.
How to Freeze Cherries:
1 – Wash the cherries carefully, removing any debris. Remove the stems while you wash them. Rubbing them gently with your fingers will usually suffice.
2 – Remove the pits. You can freeze cherries with the pits, but they often take on a nutty, almond-like flavor, so you may want to avoid that.
3 – Lay the washed, pitted cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer until frozen. This will prevent them from clumping together and will retain their shape. They will remain round and colorful. After they are frozen, place them in a freezer bag, removing all the air. They will last about a year.
Tips & Tricks for Storing and Freezing Cherries:
- Allow the cherries to dry thoroughly before you freeze them. This will reduce the likelihood of them all sticking together when you freeze them.
- When shopping for cherries you should look for cherries that are bright, shiny, and plump. The darker the cherry, the sweeter the taste.
- Cherries with their stems have a longer shelf life.
- When pitting cherries you may want to don an apron – the juice stains everything!
- If you aren’t freezing your cherries, store them unwashed in plastic bags in the fridge. Before eating, let them come to room temperature for the best flavor.
- Some cooks like to freeze cherries in a syrup (40% – 4 parts water to 3 cups sugar) and ascorbic acid or citrus juice. I skipped this because I am not sure what I will use the cherries for.
- Sour cherries are best for freezing for pie filling. You stir in sugar (measurements depend on how many cherries, etc.) and pack in rigid airtight containers for this purpose.
Our cherries are sweetly nestled in the freezer, waiting for me to decide what to do with them.
Does anyone have any ideas? Make a compote? A pie, perhaps? Some cherry sauce for sundaes? Would love some suggestions!