Easily freeze cherries to enjoy the sweet taste of summer all year round. It's never been quicker or easier to safely stow your surplus cherries for long term storage. With a little time and a few ideas on how to use your stash, you can continue to relish summer's cherries even during the coldest winter months.
Want to save this?
Enter your email below and you'll get it straight to your inbox. Plus you'll get easy new recipes, gardening tips & more every week!
Some links in this article are affiliate links and if you click on them I will receive a small commission at no cost to you.
The summer cherry season is as welcomed and delicious as it is short - in just a few weeks it's here and over, especially if the weather turns hot - or the birds discover them.
But there is an easy way to store cherries quickly to enjoy them longer - freezing.
I even wrote a book about how to easily freeze produce and a quick guide to no-blanch freezing!
The biggest issue with cherries is needing to pit them first. That's the most time-consuming part of prepping cherries for freezing.
Can you freeze cherries with the pits?
Yes! If you want to use them to eat frozen, you can freeze them with the pits. You just want to mark the package WELL with the fact that there are pits so you don't break your teeth - or the blades of a blender.
However, you'll get the easiest and most convenient use of them afterwards if you take the time to pit them.
I'll list a couple ways below to pit them, so no matter your equipment there is probably a simple way to remove the pits - simple, although taking more time.
Here's what you'll need to freeze cherries:
- Cherries, washed - any type (the variety pictured are Royal Anne/Queen Anne)
- 4-6 slot manual cherry pitter OR sharp knife or chopstick (even though you can freeze with pits, I really recommend taking the time to pit them before freezing)
- Large baking sheet
- Freezer bags, airtight containers or vacuum sealer system
- Straw if using freezer bags - to use this trick (I now use stainless or glass straws)
How to freeze cherries
After washing the cherries, remove the pits with a manual pitter like this one (using one that does 4-6 will make it go faster, obviously). You can also use a knife or chopstick - see FAQs for more.
Lay the cherries out on a large baking sheet in a single layer. I've never found that you have to line the pan with parchment as long as the cherries are mostly dry.
Once cherries have frozen solid (2-3 hours), transfer them to labeled freezer bags or containers.
Seal and use the DIY straw vacuum trick to remove as much air as possible. Return to freezer for long term storage.
What to do with frozen cherries?
Here are just a few ideas to inspire you about the ways you can use your frozen cherries through the year:
- Eat frozen- pop them into your mouth frozen for a wonderful hot weather treat.
- As "ice cubes" - drop a few whole frozen cherries into any glass of water, sparkling water, or juice for a fun drink. By the time you've reached the bottom, you have thawed cherries to eat.
- Smoothies - toss a handful of frozen cherries into any smoothie.
- Cooking/baking - mix chopped frozen cherries into your next batch of overnight oats, baked oatmeal or oatmeal cookies.
- Quick pie filling - simmer 4 cups of frozen cherries and about 1 cup of sugar (to taste) until the mixture is syrupy. Whisk in 4 tablespoons of cornstarch and simmer for a couple more minutes until thickened. Pour into your favorite crust and bake as usual.
Use a chopstick: place the cherry between your thumb and index finger and gently push the chopstick from the stem end down to the pit until it comes out the other side.
Use a small, sharp knife: cut the cherries in half and remove the pit - freeze in halves.
Yes, as mentioned you can freeze them with the pits. You can throw whole, washed and dried cherries on a baking sheet, freeze and then move into freezer baggies. Make sure to mark that they have pits and use them to eat whole while frozen for a treat (thaw a few minutes before eating). Note: it's much more convenient to pit them first, however.
You can keep cherries for 6-12 months in the freezer.
You can use them frozen for many things (smoothies, pie filling, etc.) but if you need to thaw, here's how:
-Thaw in fridge overnight OR place baggie of frozen cherries in a bowl of cold water, they should thaw in 15 to 20 minutes.
Yes, you can make a light simply syrup, cook the cherries in it and then freeze.
For 4 cups of cherries use 4 cups of water and 1 cup of sugar. Boil the water and sugar together (the simple syrup), add the cherries and bring back to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool 20 minutes then ladle into freezer containers. Cool completely, label, and freeze. You can eat this with just a few minutes thawing over ice cream or cake.
More Easy Ways to Freeze Produce
Here are even more ways to freeze produce:
- How To Roast And Freeze Beets (Picture Tutorial)
- How To Freeze Green Beans The Easy Way Without Blanching
- How To Freeze Corn Three Ways: Blanched, Unblanched and Whole
- 6 Ways To Freeze Basil: Which Is Best?
- How to Freeze Broccoli - Blanched & Unblanched
How to Freeze Cherries
- large baking sheet
- manual cherry pitter OR sharp knife OR chopstick
- 1 quart size freezer baggie or container
- 3 cups cherries (for every quart)
- Wash and drain cherries.
- Pit cherries using manual pitter, chopstick, or cut in half and pit with a knife. (You can freeze with pits, but they won't be as easy to use and you need to label well.)
- Add cherries to a large baking sheet in a single layer. You can line the pan with parchment if you want - I haven't had the need as the cherries release fine from the pan after freezing.
- Freeze the cherries on the pan for 2-3 hours until frozen solid.
- Transfer the cherries to a quart freezer baggie or container, removing as much air as possible.
- Place back in the freezer and store for 6-12 months.