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. It may seem daunting, but our guide simplifies the process of preserving cherries. Read on to find out what you need to get started.
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.
Removing the stem
Be sure to destem the cherries before you pit them. After plucking the stems from the cherries place the fruit in a bowl with fresh lemon juice. This will prevent discoloration of the stem ends. If serving the cherries whole is your intention, don’t bother picking the stems off.
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.
If you intend to use cherries in pies, the best way to preserve them will be using the canning method. Preserving cherries this way will 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 and a certain cooking process. 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 and process using the same canning instructions used for making strawberry jam. The cherries should keep well for one year.