There’s no doubt that cherries are a delicious and rare treat to many people, but they are also tricky to store and seem to go off before you have even blinked sometimes. If you’ve found that problem, you might be wondering about the best ways to keep cherries fresh.
Should they go in the fridge or on the counter? How long can cherries keep in the optimum conditions? How can you tell if a cherry is past the point where you should eat it?
We’re going to explore all of these questions to make it easy for you to make the most of these delicious fruits and ensure that the cherries you buy or harvest don’t go to waste.
Table of Contents
How To Store Cherries
Fresh cherries should be put straight into your refrigerator. They do not want to be hanging around at room temperature for any longer than is necessary, or they will start to turn bad, so chill them as quickly as you can. If you store them on the counter, they will probably only last for a couple of days.
You should avoid washing cherries before you put them in the fridge. Cherries will quickly absorb this extra moisture, and that will make them soggy. They will rot more quickly, and won’t taste as good when you eat them, so forego the rinse and only wash them when you are ready to consume them.
If you really want to make your cherries last, you can put them between layers of paper towel. This will absorb excess moisture and keep the fruits firm and fresh for longer. An absorbent cloth such as a dishtowel may also do the trick.
It’s important to try and avoid bruising cherries while they are stored. They are very easy to squash, and the weight of other cherries alone might be enough to bruise some of the ripest fruits. Bruised fruits suffer from problems with infection and mold, as mentioned by Slate.
If you are storing a lot of cherries, put them into separate containers and spread them out a bit. Two or three layers should be fine, but more than that will result in the lowest fruit getting crushed and rotting, which will cause the other cherries to rot more quickly too.
You may find that containers like these Fridge Storage Containers or these longer Fridge Storage Containers help to maximize the life of your cherries. They both contain water filter trays that will help to keep the cherries drier for longer.
- Keep Produce Fresh Longer: Produce containers for fridge with lids helps prevent spoilage, keep fruits and vegetables crisp and stay longer.
- Water Drain Tray: Fruit and vegetable storage containers with special water drain tray keep vegetables and fruits separately out of drippings.
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How Long Can You Store Cherries?
Provided there are no bruised or bad cherries in your batch, they should last for about a week in the fridge. It’s worth noting that cherries with the stems still attached tend to last better, because they don’t have a hole at the top for moisture to get into; the fruit is still “sealed.”
You should check on your cherries every so often, removing any cherries that are getting overripe or squishy. Occasionally, you may get cherries that last for up to ten days if they are very fresh and you are vigilant about removing any bad ones.
If you want to store cherries for longer than this, you should think about freezing them or using them in preserves such as jams or desserts. Fresh cherries will rarely last for longer than a week in the fridge, and may not even last that long if they were picked when they were very ripe.
If you want to freeze them, Ziploc bags are the best option. These will minimize the airflow and prevent freezer burn. Make sure the cherries don’t get squashed under anything heavy in the freezer.
How To Use Frozen Cherries
Although freezing is an option to save your cherries from going off, it doesn’t leave you with fresh cherries when you get them back out. They will be soft, and really only suitable for baking with. You can defrost them in a bowl of lukewarm water or leave them on the counter to defrost, but don’t expect them to be firm like fresh cherries.
Frozen cherries are great for use in recipes, but there aren’t really any ways to store fresh cherries for a long time. You can look into cherry preserves such as jams and bottled cherries if you don’t want to use the fruits as part of a dessert; these certainly aren’t the same as fresh cherries, but they are the next best thing.
How To Tell If Cherries Have Gone Bad
It’s usually fairly easy to tell if a cherry has gone past its best. The fruit will turn darker, becoming a bruised red instead of that tempting ruby color. It will also become very squishy, and you may find an overripe cherry breaks apart in your hand.
Overripe cherries can be safe to eat, but you may notice that the flavor has turned alcoholic, and they are not very nice. It is better to discard them in case they are harboring bacteria that might make you sick.
You may also see mold on the cherry; this will usually be around the opening where the stem has been broken away, or on any damaged parts of the flesh. Cherries that have gone moldy definitely need to be discarded.
Sometimes cherries that are going off take on an alcoholic scent; this is a further clue that they are past the point where you should eat them.
Mistakes To Avoid When Storing Cherries
- Avoid keeping cherries with other fruits: you should keep cherries away from fruits that produce a lot of ethylene gas, such as apples or bananas. These will encourage the cherries to ripen faster, and can make them bad much more quickly.
- Avoid letting your cherries get damp. If there is a lot of condensation in your fridge, make sure you dry your cherries off and use absorbent paper or fabric to keep them dry.
- Avoid trying to wash or prep cherries in advance: washing, cutting, or stoning your cherries will massively decrease their lifespan, and they will not last for more than a few days if you do this. Intact, unwashed cherries will last better than any other kind.
Keep Your Cherries Fresh!
Storing any fresh fruit can be a challenge, and delicate, soft fruits like cherries even more so. To keep your cherries fresh for as long as possible, minimize how much water they come into contact with, and always keep them cool and away from other fruits.