5 Creative Ways to Preserve Summer Cherries

by | Read time: 4 minutes

It’s cherry season! Whether you like them tart or sweet, there is nothing like juicy, summer sun-ripened cherries. Head out to your local farmer’s market or spend an afternoon at a pick-your-own location, filling up your baskets. One cup of cherries is rich in antioxidants, only 100 calories and supplies 15% of your total daily vitamin C needs.

Pot Filled with Cooked Cherries Beside Jar of Cherry Cordial Mixture to Represent How to Preserve Cherries | Vitacost.com/blog

How to preserve cherries

When you get your cherries home, blot off any excess moisture, and store them in paper bags or other storage containers in the refrigerator. Wash your cherries when you’re ready to eat them as extra moisture will make them decay more quickly.  Depending on the variety of cherries they will stay fresh in the refrigerator from four days to two weeks.

Do you have just too many cherries to eat? Make the season last a little longer with these easy ways to preserve your bounty.

1. Freeze them

Remove cherry stems and pits, wash and pat dry with kitchen towel or paper towel. Arrange clean cherries on a rimmed sheet pan in a single layer and freeze. When cherries are fully frozen, place them in freezer storage bags or food storage containers.

How to use

  • Enjoy as frozen treat, sweet and satisfying
  • Add to your smoothies
  • Make frozen cherry daiquiris
  • Add to muffins, quick breads or mix with other fruits for a baked fruit crisp.

2. Make flavored vinegar

It’s easier that you might think to make a gourmet-style flavored cherry vinegar. Simply follow the steps for making your own infused vinegar, using fresh cherries and white or cider vinegar. Let the combination sit for a few days before straining. (Note: For a richer flavor, try soaking cherries in balsamic vinegar.)

How to use:

  • Make a fruity cherry vinaigrette salad dressing
  • Add a splash to filtered or sparkling water with a touch of maple syrup or your favorite sweetener
  • Reduce balsamic cherry vinegar for a sweet drizzle over grilled vegetables or poultry.

3. Whip up some compound butter

Compound butter is a fancy (but easy-to-make) butter mixed with herbs and other delicious seasonings. Combine 1 cup of softened butter or vegan butter with ¼ cup or more pitted and chopped cherries, ½ teaspoon salt, dash ground pepper, 1 tablespoon chopped rosemary, 2 tablespoons chopped parsley and 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar. Mix to combine or mix in a food processor. Shape softened butter into a log on a piece of parchment paper and roll up. Secure rolled log of butter and store in freezer bag until ready to use.

How to use:

  • Slice frozen butter into disk and place on top of grilled pork, beef or chicken
  • Add a slice to your favorite cooked grains; it’s delicious on brown rice or sprouted quinoa with roasted vegetables
  • Add a slice to baked sweet potato

4. Make a cherry cordial

This sweet cherry-infused liquor, also known as bounce, dates back to notes from Martha Washington’s diary. Here is a simple way to make a batch of bourbon cherries.

Fill a sterilized quart jar with pitted cherries. Combine about ¾ cup bourbon with 1 cup sugar in saucepan, over medium heat, whisk to dissolve sugar. Remove pan from stove and let it cool to room temperature. Pour bourbon mixture over cherries. Add in a cinnamon stick if desired. Cover jar with a lid and refrigerate for several weeks. Substitute rum or brandy for bourbon, which is delicious as well.

How to use:

  • Serve bourbon infused cherries over ice cream or cake
  • Drizzle cherry cordial into your favorite plain yogurt and top with berries
  • Use boozy cherries to garnish a cocktail
  • Add some of the liquid to your favorite barbecue sauce recipe
  • Gift a jar to your friend

5. Make a batch of dried cherries

Enjoy the sweet taste of summer all year long with these concentrated bites. Remove stems and pits, then wash cherries and blot dry with paper towels. Arrange cherries on a rimmed sheet pan and place in preheated 200-degree oven.

Bake cherries for 6-8 hours until dry, but still a little chewy. Store cooled cherries in a sealed container. (I store them in the refrigerator.)

Cherries can also be dried in an air fryer or dehydrator.

How to use:

  • Add them to your favorite granola recipe
  • Add a handful to your salad bowl. Frisee, endive, arugula, and spinach all pair well with dried cherries.
  • Add them to your favorite fruit pies, especially apple or pear
  • Make a sweet and salty snack mix blend; combine a handful of dried cherries with pretzels, chocolate chunks and toasted coconut flakes.

Although lazy summer days and cherry-picking memories can be fleeting, the sweet taste of cherries does not have to be. Enjoy a bite of summer all year long.