The saying “all good things must come to an end” certainly applies to the end of cherry season. After harvesting daily since May, the end of Stemilt’s cherry season is drawing near. I often get emails this time of year from people wondering how they can preserve cherries so that they can enjoy the delicious fruit in the off-season. While there are many methods for preserving cherries (and any fruit for that matter), I often suggest freezing cherries because it is quick, easy, and retains the nutrition and flavor of fruit. This weekend, I set out to freeze cherries for my family, and wanted to share my process and results with you.
Step 1: Wash your cherries.
A cold water rinse works well, or you can choose to use a fruit/vegetable spray as well.
Step 2: Remove the stems.
It’s important to wait to remove the stems until you are ready to use/freeze cherries, as the stem helps maintain the fruit’s freshness.
Step 3: Pit the cherries.
You can opt to freeze cherries whole, pit and all, but knowing that I would probably use the cherries right out of the freezer in a smoothie or feed them to my toddler (once thawed), I chose to save time later and do this step now. If you have a cherry pitter, use it! I didn’t, so pitting the cherries was a bit messy and quite the task (you have to dig them out with a spoon or pop them out with your hand). I ended up slicing each cherry in half to make removing the pits less challenging. I cut around the pit, similar to how you might cut around an avocado pit.
Step 4: Spread pitted cherries in a single layer on a cookie sheet lined with wax paper.
I was visiting my parents for the weekend and was able to use their freezer for this project! Otherwise, my freezer would have been too narrow to fit a wide cookie sheet. If your freezer is the same, you can skip this step and freeze the cherries in a Ziploc bag. You’ll just want to be prepared to deal with a block of frozen cherries, rather than individually frozen cherries.
Step 5: Place cherries in freezer.
The time for freezing cherries will vary based on your freezer settings. For me, two cookie sheets of halved cherries took about 6 hours to freeze thoroughly.
Step 6: Remove from freezer and place in bags.
Once I confirmed that the cherries were frozen, I removed them from the cookie sheet and placed them in a freezer-safe Ziploc bag. I dated the bag so I would know when to toss them (if I hadn’t used them up by then). Cherries will keep in the freezer for 6 months, or up to a year in a deep freezer. I froze approximately 54 cherries, and that yielded one quart size bag of frozen cherries.
Step 7: Place cherries back in freezer.
The frozen cherries go back into the freezer until it is time to use them.
I can’t wait to enjoy cherries this winter! Do you have other methods for freezing cherries? What about preserving cherries? Let me know by leaving a comment below. On behalf of Stemilt, thanks for all your support of our World Famous Cherries this year. We are already looking forward to next year. Onto the next harvest – Washington-grown apples and pears!