The joy of eating fresh cherries is one of the highlights of the summer. But you don’t have to say goodbye to this delicious fruit once cherry season is over. The best way of ensuring you’ll eat cherries all year round is preserving them. This guide simplifies the process of preserving cherries.
Methods For Preserving Cherries: Dried cherries are common in the supermarket but difficult to accomplish on your own, unless you have a special machine that dehydrates fruit. In which case, you simply follow the manufacturer’s instruction. When not drying cherries, the best methods for preserving them at home are freezing and canning.
How To Pit Cherries: Preserving cherries usually involves pitting the fruit. For this, you can buy a special cherry pitter at a kitchenware store or you can use a knife. If using a knife, simply lay the cherry on a cutting board and press the flat side of the blade over the cherry. The skin will break and the pit will easily come out.
Freezing Cherries: If you would like to use cherries in smoothies later on, place a flat layer of the fruit on a sheet pan and put in the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer to a plastic bag. This will prevent clumps of frozen fruit that are impossible to separate unless thawed.
Canning Cherries: If you intend to use cherries in pies, the best way to preserve them will be using the canning method. Preserving cherries this way provides a better consistency for pies, as the fruit retains some of its original texture.
Sugar Syrup For Canning: Have you ever noticed that canned fruit at the supermarket is always packed in syrup? That’s because the sugar acts like a natural preservative for the fruit. The syrup creates a barrier around the fruit that prevents air from spoiling it.
The amount of sugar for the syrup will depend on the type of cherry. For sour cherries, use 2 ½ cups of sugar per every 4 cups of water. Sweet cherries will requires less sugar, use about 1 ½ cups of sugar for 4 cups of water.
To make the syrup place the water and sugar in a pot and cook until the sugar completely dissolves and the syrup is clear.
How To Can Cherries: Before canning cherries, familiarize yourself with the canning process, which requires sterilized equipment. Begin by washing your jars and lids. You can reuse your glass jars but will need new lids every time you can.
Sterilize your jars and lids by placing in a pot of cold water, then bring to a simmer for about 10 minutes. Use thongs to pull the jars and lids out of the hot water. Set on a rack to dry. Leave the pot of water on the stove, as you will use it for the next step. Once you have sterilized your equipment, place the cherries in a jar and fill it with the sugar syrup until it completely covers the cherries. Place the lid on firmly but not too tight.
In the same pot you sterilized your equipment, carefully place each jar and make sure the water completely covers the jar (at least two inches above the lid). Cover the pot with a lid. Bring the water to a boil and continue to cook for 10 minutes. Then turn off the heat. Pull off the lid and wait a few minutes under the water is not longer boiling.
Using thongs, carefully remove each jar from the water and place on the countertop covered with a towel. As the jars cool the pressure inside will create a vacuum seal. Once the jars are completely cool press down on the lids, if they don’t make a popping sound you have successfully canned your cherries.