How to Freeze Sweet Cherries tutorial is part of a series on preserving, freezing, and drying fruit. Find more in this homemade preservation series here.
Freezing sweet cherries is a great way to have fresh cherries on hand all year round. Granted, cherries that have been frozen have a different texture than those that have not, but you can still do quite a bit with frozen cherries which makes them a great staple to have in the freezer.
I prefer to freeze my cherries whole and pitted. I like them ready-to-eat or use right from the freezer, and I don’t like the taste the cherry takes on from being frozen with the pit intact. It’s a personal preference I suppose. So is the question on how to freeze them. There several ways to freeze cherries, but the dry pack method is my favorite. First, because it’s so easy; and secondly, because they’re not packed in syrup (sugar and water), so they don’t have additional calories, and they can be dehydrated or used in recipes right from the jar.
Some cooks also like to use Vitamin C Crystals (ascorbic acid) or Citric Acid to keep the cherries from turning brown along the pitted area. I’ve never had a problem, so I don’t use either of them. For Rainier cherries and other light cherries, it would be a must.
How to Freeze Sweet Cherries: Flash Freeze or Dry Pack – Which is Right?
Both work fine, but which you use depends on what you plan on using your frozen cherries for. I skip the flash freezing (see below) and do the dry pack method by placing directly in the jar when I know I’ll be using the cherries for drying or juicing. They need to be defrosted, so there’s no need for them to stay separated. When freezing this way, only fill the jar ¾ full – the cherries will expand as they freeze so you’ll need the headspace.
When flash freezing, the berries are already frozen before you put them in the jar, so the headspace isn’t necessary.
How to Freeze Sweet Cherries: What Varieties Are Sweet?
Sweet cherries are any cherry you would eat fresh from the tree which requires no sweetener as opposed to pie cherries which are extremely tart and need sugar or sweetener for most people.
The most common sweet cherry is probably the Bing. They’re dark red and heart shaped with a sweet taste. Here in Washington, Chelan Cherries are very common. They’re rounder than heart-shaped and super sweet. They’re also sometimes referred to as Black Cherries.
Rainier Cherries are expensive but so uniquely delicious that they’re worth a taste. They’re yellow and red with a unique apple/pear/cherry taste.
These three sweet cherries are the most common in my area, but you may find different varieties where you live.
How to Freeze Cherries: Products We Used
- Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash
- Calypso Basics 1.5 Quart powder coated Colander, White
- Norpro 5120 Deluxe Cherry Pitter (Norpro Deluxe Cherry Pitter with Suction Base)
- Non-stick silicone baking mat
- rubber glove
- Canning Jars with Lids (BPA-Free Canning Jar Lids) OR BPA-Free Freezer Bags
- Sweet Cherries - choose fresh, ripe fruit without blemishes.
- Cherry Pitter
- Canning jars with Lids (BPA Free Canning Jar Lids) OR BPA Free Freezer Bags
- Sheet pan with sides
- Wax paper, parchment paper, or non-stick silicone baking mat
- Paper towel or clean kitchen towel
- Wash, stem and pit the cherries (I use Fit Fruit & Vegetable Wash and plenty of water. Stemming is easier if you wear a rubber glove - it helps grab onto the stems allowing several to be pulled off at the same time. Discard the stems. Pitting will stain! Don’t wear or use anything you’re not willing to sacrifice. Pitting is easy with a Norpro 5120 Deluxe Cherry Pitter. Pitters cost about $20 and are well worth the investment.)
- Line the sided tray with wax paper, parchment paper, or non-stick silicone baking mat. Lay the cherries out in a single layer (try to keep the cherries from touching).
- Cover the tray of cherries with paper towel or kitchen towel
- Freeze for 30 minutes or until the berries are frozen solid.
- Transfer immediately to a canning jar. Seal and label. If you’re using freezer bags, squeeze out as much air as possible without actually squeezing the cherries.
- Frozen cherries should keep in a deep freezer (0 degrees) for up to a year. A freezer in a refrigerator about 6 months.