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Fresh cherries are a delicious and versatile snack that can be enjoyed all year round, thanks to this guide on how to freeze cherries. Preserved cherries can be used for baking, smoothies, elegant desserts and more. Check out our easy guide below for freezing cherries 2 ways: fresh without sugar or in a light sugar syrup.

Frozen cherries on wooden board.

Where to Get Fresh Cherries

Cherries are known for their relatively short harvest season, so it is essential to stock up on these tasty fruits while they are available locally. At a time when the cost of food is rising, food preservation is a great way to lock in current prices and enjoy later.

Some small farms even offer u-pick options which can be an excellent way to spend an afternoon and be able to see where your produce is coming from. PickYourOwn.org is a great resource for finding farms in your area.

You should also be able to find them at your local farmers’ markets or supermarkets when they are in season.

How Long Does it Take to Freeze Fresh Cherries?

For the cherries to completely freeze solid, it can take 4 hours or more. It’s best to leave them overnight if you can.

Prep Tips

Pitted cherries on wooden board.
  • It is best to use clean, pitted cherries for this recipe. It’s a lot more convenient to add the frozen cherries to dishes later on, such as adding them directly to a blender for smoothies. You can use cherries with pits, if you prefer, depending on what you are using them for.
  • A cherry pitter comes in really handy.
  • If you want to make prep time quicker, get the kids to help out with removing the stems and pitting. I know my kids love to join in.
  • Put a preparation date on the freezer bag/container so that you know how long they have been in the freezer.

Method 1: How to Freeze Fresh Cherries

With this method we will freeze fresh cherries. We are going to freeze them individually first so that they don’t stick together.

Step 1: Gather Ingredients & Tools

Fresh cherries in a colander.
  • 2 cups whole fresh cherries (cleaned, pitted and stems removed) – This method works for all sorts of cherries: sweet like bing or rainier, dark or light, sour/tart, etc.
  • baking sheet
  • wax paper or parchment paper
  • freezer bags or air-tight containers

Step 2: Spread Cherries on Baking Sheet

Pitted cherries on pan on marble countertop.

Line a baking sheet with wax paper. At this point you can leave the cherries whole or slice them if you prefer. Spread the pitted cherries out in a single layer on the baking sheet, making sure they aren’t touching each other.

Step 3: Place in Freezer

Pitted cherries on pan, top view.

Place in the freezer until frozen solid, about 4 hours or overnight.

Step 4: Transfer to Freezer Bag

Fresh cherries on spoon with zip top bag.

Remove the cherries from the freezer and place them all together in a freezer bag.

Step 5: Return to Freezer

Frozen cherries on wooden board.

Place the bag of cherries back into the freezer for up to 6 months or up to 1 year in the deep freeze.

Method 2: How to Freeze Cherries With Sugar

With this method, we are preserving the cherries in a light syrup.

Step 1: Gather Ingredients & Tools

Fresh cherries in a colander.
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar – If using tart/sour cherries, you may want to add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of sugar.
  • 2 cups fresh whole cherries – cleaned, pitted and stems removed
  • medium saucepan
  • airtight containers

Step 2: Add Sugar and Water to Saucepan

Sugar pouring into saucepan.

In a medium saucepan, add the water and sugar.

Step 3: Bring to Boil

Cherries in a sugar syrup in saucepan.

Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, carefully add the cherries and give them a gentle stir. Bring back to a full boil.

Cherries in a sugar syrup in saucepan.

Step 4: Boil for 1 Minute

Cherries in a sugar syrup in saucepan.

Boil the cherries for 1 minute (you don’t want to cook them too long so that they retain their shape and texture). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.

Step 5: Freeze

Cherries in a sugar syrup in plastic container with spoon.

Place the cherries with the syrup in air-tight containers and into the freezer for up to 1 year.

Note: It’s ideal to use a couple of containers with a 1 cup capacity so that you don’t have to thaw them all at once when ready to use.

Cherries in a sugar syrup in plastic container.
Cherries in a sugar syrup in plastic container, cherry pitter on the side.

Ways to Use Frozen Cherries

Cherries in syrup over cake on plate.

By utilizing this recipe, you will always have access to delicious, fresh cherries without worrying about them going bad on the counter or in the fridge. Frozen cherries can also be substituted for fresh in many recipes.

Freezing fresh cherries is an excellent option for healthy and low sugar recipes such as smoothies or adding to overnight oats and yogurt. You can use them in pies, tarts and galettes like in this cherry galette recipe.

Cherries in syrup over cake on plate with a spoon.

Freezing cherries in syrup works best for making sweet sauces or as a topping for yogurt, ice cream, cheesecake or other desserts. There are countless ways to use your frozen cherries.

Frozen cherries on wooden board.

How to Freeze Cherries

Joss D
We show you how to freeze cherries using 2 methods: fresh or in a sugar syrup. They can be used for baking, smoothies, elegant desserts and more.
No ratings yet
Prep Time 5 mins
Freeze Time: 4 hrs
Total Time 4 hrs 5 mins
Course Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 43 kcal

Ingredients
 
 

Method 1 – Fresh

  • 2 cups cherries - cleaned, pitted and stems removed

Method 2 – In Light Syrup

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 2 cups cherries - cleaned, pitted and stems removed

Instructions
 

Method 1 – Fresh

  • Line a baking sheet with wax paper. At this point you can leave the cherries whole or slice them if you prefer.
    Pitted cherries on wooden board.
  • Spread the pitted cherries out in a single layer on the baking sheet, making sure they aren’t touching each other.
    Pitted cherries on pan on marble countertop.
  • Place in the freezer until frozen solid, about 4 hours or overnight.
    Pitted cherries on pan, top view.
  • Remove the cherries from the freezer and place them all together in a freezer bag.
    Fresh cherries on spoon with zip top bag.
  • Place the bag of cherries back into the freezer for up to 6 months or up to 1 year in the deep freeze.
    Frozen cherries on wooden board.

Method 2 – In Light Syrup

  • In a medium saucepan, add the water and sugar.
    Sugar pouring into saucepan.
  • Bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, carefully add the cherries and give them a gentle stir. Bring back to a full boil.
    Cherries in a sugar syrup in saucepan.
  • Boil the cherries for 1 minute (you don’t want to cook them too long so that they retain their shape and texture). Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
    Cherries in a sugar syrup in saucepan.
  • Place the cherries with the syrup in air-tight containers and into the freezer for up to 1 year (it's ideal to use a couple of containers with a 1 cup capacity so that you don’t have to thaw them all at once when ready to use).
    Cherries in a sugar syrup in plastic container with spoon.

Equipment

Baking sheet
Medium zip-top freezer bag

Notes

  • The time and nutrition information is for the fresh cherries (Method 1) per 1/2 cup serving.
  • Make sure you put a date on the freezer bag/container so that you know how long they have been in the freezer.
  • If using tart/sour cherries for the cherries in syrup, you may want to add 1 to 2 more tablespoons of sugar.

Nutrition

Calories: 43kcalCarbohydrates: 11gProtein: 1gFat: 1gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gPotassium: 153mgFiber: 1gSugar: 9gVitamin A: 44IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 9mgIron: 1mg

Nutrition information on In the Kitch is provided as a courtesy and is an estimate only. It may not include toppings and/or sauces.

Keyword cherries
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