• When possible, preserve fresh, locally-grown cherries for the best quality and nutritional value. Determine when fresh cherries are available where you live with this seasonal food guide.

If this is your first time freezing or it has been awhile, it is recommended that you read General Freezing Information before beginning.  

1. Selection & Ingredients

  • Select well-colored, tree-ripened cherries. Do not use fruit that show signs of decay or mold.
  • Use 2-2 ½ cups cherries per quart container
  • Anti-darkening treatment:  
    • Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) –or-
    • Commercial ascorbic acid mixture (follow manufacturer’s directions for treating fruit)
  • Sugar for sugar or syrup pack (optional)
    • NOTE: Unsweetened, dry packed fruits will lose quality faster than those packed in sugar or syrup.

2. Equipment

  • Cooking pot (if using liquid pack method)
  • Colander
  • Ruler/headspace tool
  • Use clean packing containers and materials that are moisture and vapor-proof/resistant:
  • Rigid containers (glass jars and hard plastic containers) are especially good for freezing foods with liquid. Covers for rigid containers should fit tightly.
    • Square or rectangular, straight-sided rigid plastic containers make the best use of freezer space.
    • Wide-mouth, dual-purpose glass jars made for canning and freezing are tempered to withstand extremes in temperature and allow for easier removal of partially-thawed foods.
    • Narrow-mouth dual-purpose glass jars can also be used but require greater headspace (to avoid expansion breakage at the shoulder) and foods must be completely thawed before removal.
  • Flexible bags or wrappings (plastic freezer bags, freezer wrap or paper, and heavyweight aluminum foil) are best for freezing food products with little or no liquid.
    • Vacuum packaging removes more oxygen than other freezing methods (Refer to manufacturer's instructions.)

3. Prepare Equipment

  • Before use, wash containers in hot soapy water and rinse well. Dry.

4. Prepare Fruit

  • Thoroughly stem, sort, and wash cherries.
  • Dry thoroughly with a clean paper towel.
  • Remove the pit from the cherries.

5. Pack

Choose one of the following packing methods:

Unsweetened (Dry) Pack-

  • To prevent darkening, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon (750 mg) ascorbic acid in ¼ cup cold water for each quart of fruit. Sprinkle over the fruit.
    • If using commercial ascorbic acid mixture, follow manufacturer’s directions.
  • Pack cherries tightly into containers, leaving proper headspace for the container type (see Headspace table below).
    • Cherries can also be frozen first on a tray and then packed into containers as soon as they are frozen.
  • Before sealing, make sure sealing edges are free of moisture or food.
    • If using flexible bags or wrap, remove as much air as possible.
  • Seal.

Sugar (Liquid) Pack-

  • To prevent darkening, dissolve 1/4 teaspoon (750 mg) ascorbic acid in ¼ cup cold water. Sprinkle over the fruit.
    • If using commercial ascorbic acid mixture, follow manufacturer’s directions.
  • Mix  3/4 cup sugar with 1 quart fruit.
  • Pack cherries tightly into containers, leaving proper headspace for the container type (see Headspace table below).
    • If using rigid containers, place a small piece of crumpled water-resistant paper on top to hold fruit down.
    • If using flexible bags, remove as much air space as possible.
  • Before sealing, make sure sealing edges are free of moisture or food.
  • Seal.

Syrup (Liquid) Pack-

  • A 30% sugar syrup is recommended for most fruits
    • Lighter syrups (10-20%) are lower in calories and desirable for mild-flavored fruits, such as melons.
    • Heavier syrups (40-50%) may be needed for very sour fruits.
    • Plan for 1/2 to 2/3 cup syrup for each pint of fruit.
  • To make the syrup, dissolve sugar in lukewarm water, mixing until the solution is clear (see Sugar Syrup Recipe table below).
    • Cool syrup before using. (Syrup can also be prepared the day before and refrigerated until ready to use.)
  • To prevent browning, add 1/2 teaspoon (1500 mg) ascorbic acid to each quart of cooled syrup.
    • If using commercial ascorbic acid mixture, follow manufacturer’s directions.
  • Add 1/2 cup syrup/pint container or 1 cup syrup/quart container.
  • Add cherries, pressing down firmly, and cover with additional syrup, as needed, leaving the proper headspace for the container type (see Headspace table below).
    • If using rigid containers, place a small piece of crumpled water-resistant paper on top to hold fruit down.
    • If using flexible bags, remove as much air space as possible.
  • Before sealing, make sure sealing edges are free of moisture or food.
  • Seal.
Sugar Syrup Recipes
% Syrup Sugar (cups) Water (cups) Yield              (cups syrup)
10 1/2 4 4 1/2
20 1 4 4 3/4
30 1 3/4 4 5
40 2 3/4 4 5 1/3
50 4 4 6

 

Headspace for Freezing Fruit
Pack Type Container with wide top opening Container with narrow top opening Flexible bags and wraps
  Pint  Quart Pint Quart Any Size
Liquid Pack ½-inch 1-inch ¾-inch 1 ½-inches Remove as much air as possible
Dry Pack ½-inch ½-inch ½-inch ½-inch Remove as much air as possible

 

6. Store

  • Freeze packaged fruits as quickly as possible to 0°F or below.
    • For quickest freezing, place containers in single layer in freezer.
  • Label with the name of food, date, and type of pack.
  • Most fruits will maintain high quality for 8-12 months at 0°F or below.