As a native Michigander, when I think of cherries, one of the first things that come to mind is the National Cherry Festival in Traverse City, MI. This iconic festival usually takes place in the first part of every July, with events of all kinds, for all ages. The region is renowned for cherry orchards, and retailers like Cherry Republic have since sprouted up in numerous locations! While the peak of cherry season can vary depending on where you live, typically, the best time to bring home cherries is mid-July. However, once you get some home, the clock starts ticking how long they’ll keep. What are some of the best ways to store them? Read on for more!
While cherries may have a berry shape, according to Allrecipes, cherries are considered stone fruits and share a family with peaches, nectarines, apricots, and plums. Like those delicate fruits, cherries can go bad if not stored properly.
As mentioned above, the cherry season can undoubtedly vary depending on your location. Usually, the total peak is during July. You may see them start to show up in markets around late May or early June, and they can hang around as late as mid-August. But mid-July is usually the best time to find them.
Best Methods for Storage
When you bring your cherries home, the first thing you will want to do is pick through the fruit and be sure to discard any moldy or bruised cherries. You will want to discard any that have also busted open. Cherries should also be kept in the refrigerator unless you plan to eat them immediately.
One of the best ways to increase the longevity of cherries, though, is to ensure they stay dry. Washing fresh cherries before storing them can accelerate the spoiling process. Instead, you will want to wait to wash them with cold water until right before you intend to eat them or use them in a recipe. Also, if you have enough space in your fridge, transferring your cherry haul to a broad and flat storage container is best. Before you add the cherries to it, you will want to line the container with dry paper towels (and place more paper towels between layers if necessary) to absorb any water. Fresh cherries should last at least one week in the fridge if stored properly.
If you plan to freeze your cherries later, you will want to start washing and drying them after the bad ones have been discarded. Be sure to pit each cherry and spread them out, so they are not touching on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Freeze the cherries for at least two hours, or until mostly solid, and then place them into a freezer-safe bag. It is essential to freeze them on a sheet pan first because it ensures the cherries won’t freeze together into a big icy clump, which can happen if you throw them unfrozen into the bag at the same time.
Cherry Pitting Tips
What you wish to do with your cherries can determine the best way to store them. If you want to take advantage of their seasonal availability, buying several bags at once to freeze them throughout the year, you must pit the cherries first. The process of pitting cherries can be time-consuming.
Like many tasks, having the right tool is always vital. Here is an excellent selection on Amazon to pick from. While there are numerous styles to choose from, most common sitters will contain a metal piston that mechanically pushes the pit through the cherry, leaving the hole in the fruit and thus dropping the pit.
Of course, you can always use a paring knife to score the cherry all the way around and then dig out the pit. While probably the least safe of the methods and most time-consuming, it can work in a pinch.
Poisonous Cherry Pits
A big thing to keep in mind, whether by nibbling the fruit off the pit or manually pitting, you want to separate and safely discard the cherry pits. The hard core of the fruit contains cyanide and can be poisonous, so be mindful of this!
Hopefully, the above information will help you enjoy one of the tastiest fruits this summer! What are some of your favorite ways to prepare cherries? Or recipes? Feel free to leave a comment below!