Cherries, derived from various Prunus plant species, including sweet Prunus avium and tart Prunus cerasus, are cherished for their flavor. Cherries encompass not only the fruit but also the cherry tree, its wood, and visually similar Prunus genus trees, like ornamental cherry blossoms.
However, many are unsure whether they can freeze cottage cheese without compromising its quality.
So, Can You Freeze Cherries?
Yes, you can freeze cherries for 6 months easily. Freezing cherries is a simple process that allows you to enjoy their sweet goodness year-round. Wash, pit, and package them, then label, freeze, and savor in various culinary creations. Cherries, a symbol of summer, become a frozen slice of life.
How to Freeze Cherries?
Freezing cherries is a great way to preserve their sweet flavor and enjoy them all year long. Follow these simple steps for freezing cherries properly:
Select and Wash Cherries
Choose ripe, unblemished cherries with deep color. Rinse the cherries under cold running water and pat them dry using paper towels. Remove any stems or pits.
Prepare Cherries for Freezing
There are two ways to prepare cherries for freezing:
This method works best for cherries you plan to use in baked goods. Simply place the cleaned cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze until solid, about 2 hours. Transfer the frozen cherries to an airtight freezer bag or container. Press out as much air as possible and seal.
For cherries you want to eat raw or use in drinks and sauces, this technique prevents them from sticking together. In a bowl, mix 1 cup of sugar per 4 cups of fruit. Gently stir in the cherries to coat evenly. Use a slotted spoon to transfer cherries to a freezer bag or container, discarding excess syrup. Seal and freeze.
Store Properly in the Freezer
Cherries freeze best at 0°F or colder. Place bagged cherries in the coldest part of the freezer, where they’ll keep for up to one year. For maximum freshness, use within 3-6 months.
How do you store cherries in the freezer?
Proper storage is key to keeping frozen cherries at peak quality. Follow these tips:
- Use moisture-proof packaging like freezer bags or airtight containers. This protects against freezer burn.
- Remove as much air as possible from bags or containers before sealing. Compress bagged cherries to push out excess air.
- Lay bags flat in a single layer in the freezer to freeze fast. Once frozen, stack bags to save space.
- If storing cherries with syrup, leave 1⁄2 inch headspace in containers to allow for expansion as the liquid freezes.
- Seal containers tightly. Use containers with tight-fitting lids or double-bag cherries.
- Label packages with contents and date. Use the oldest cherries first.
- Store cherries at 0°F or below. Place packs toward the back of the freezer where the temperature is most consistent.
How long do cherries last in the freezer?
When stored properly in airtight packaging at 0°F or below, cherries can be kept frozen for the following periods:
- Dry-packed cherries: 9-12 months
- Wet packed in syrup: 12 months
- Pitted cherries: 6-9 months
Frozen cherries remain safe indefinitely, but may suffer some loss of flavor, juice, and texture over longer storage. For best quality and taste, use frozen cherries within 3-6 months.
Proper freezing techniques and minimal temperature fluctuations during storage can help extend the shelf life. Avoid repeated thawing and re-freezing cherries, as this shortens how long they’ll keep.
How To Tell If Cherries Are Gone Bad?
It’s important to know how to check frozen cherries for freshness. Here are some signs that frozen cherries have spoiled and should be discarded:
- Mold or yeast growth – This appears fuzzy or slimy
- Off odors – spoiled cherries smell fermented or vinegary
- Soft or shriveled texture – Good cherries should be firm and plump
- Freezer burn – dry, leathery patches or icy crystals on fruit
- Loss of color – cherries turn brownish red over time
- Off flavors – taste very bland, bitter, or fermented
- Weeping liquid – excessive syrup in the bottom of the container
Discard any packages of frozen cherries that display these signs of spoilage. Always inspect cherries for freshness before use. If in doubt, it’s best to play it safe and throw them out.
How do you defrost frozen cherries?
Frozen cherries are versatile and can be defrosted using a few simple methods:
- Refrigerator: Place frozen cherries in the refrigerator overnight or up to 48 hours before use. Once thawed, use within 3-5 days.
- Cold water: Seal frozen cherries in a plastic bag and submerge in cold water. Change water every 30 minutes until thawed, about 1-2 hours. Use cherries immediately.
- Microwave: Place cherries in a microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring between sessions, until thawed. Use care not to overheat.
- As part of cooking: Frozen cherries can be baked into pies, crumbles, and other desserts. No defrosting is needed. Cherries will release juice as they bake.
- Ambient temperature: Leave frozen cherries sealed at room temperature for 2-3 hours to thaw gradually. Keep cherries chilled before use.
Avoid defrosting cherries on the counter or in hot water baths. This raises the temperature too quickly and can affect texture. Always handle thawed cherries carefully and use them promptly for the best quality.
What to make with frozen cherries?
Frozen cherries offer incredible versatility in the kitchen. Here are some delicious ways to use them:
- Smoothies: Blend with yogurt or milk and ice for a nutritious breakfast or snack.
- Oatmeal or yogurt parfaits: Mix into layers with oats, Greek yogurt, chia seeds, and nuts.
- Pancakes or muffins: Fold into batter or stir into dry ingredients before baking.
- Fruit salads: Thaw and mix into spinach salad or kale salad for added nutrition.
- Cherry pies: Use as filling for pies, tarts, galettes, and crostatas.
- Cobblers and crisps: Sweeten thawed cherries slightly and bake under oat topping.
- Sauces: Puree with sugar and lemon juice for a fresh compote or coulis.
- Cherry chicken or duck: Braise poultry in a cherry sauce for a savory-sweet dish.
- Ice cream or sorbet: Fold into ice cream or blend into sorbet base for a refreshing summer treat.
Are Frozen Cherries as Healthy as Fresh?
Freezing locks in the vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other nutrients cherries naturally contain. In some cases, frozen cherries may contain slightly higher levels, as they are frozen at peak ripeness when nutrient content is maximized.
The anthocyanins that give cherries their bright red color also act as powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories. Freezing does not degrade these beneficial plant compounds.
One cup of frozen sweet cherries provides 3 grams of fiber and only 87 calories. They are naturally fat, cholesterol, and sodium free. Known to help fight heart disease and arthritis, cherries make a healthy addition to any diet.
So rest assured that frozen cherries are just as nutritious and delicious as fresh. Their sweet, tangy flavor shines whether enjoyed fresh or frozen. Freezing makes cherries accessible year-round so you can reap their nutritional benefits.
Q1. What is the best way to freeze cherries?
A1. The best way is to wash, dry, and pit fresh cherries. Spread in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze, then transfer to bags or containers.
Q2. Can you freeze fresh cherries with the pits in them?
A2. It’s possible but not recommended. The pits can lend an unpleasant flavor over long freezer storage. Pitting is best.
Q3. Are fresh cherries good frozen?
A3. Yes, fresh cherries freeze very well. They maintain their sweet flavor and bright color nicely.
Q4. How do you store fresh cherries in the freezer?
A4. Pit cherries lay flat in a single layer on a pan, freeze, then transfer to freezer bags or airtight containers.
Q5. Do cherries taste good frozen?
A5. Frozen cherries retain their sweet, fruity taste quite well. They’re delicious thawed-in pies, smoothies, compotes, and more.
Q6. What happens if you freeze cherries?
A6. Freezing breaks down cell walls in cherries, so they become slightly softer but maintain flavor well and are perfectly edible when thawed.