You shouldn’t miss cherries whenever they are in season. These fruits taste so good and are so nutritious that you should pick them up whether you see them in the supermarket or the farmer’s market where you can find the freshest goods. You may buy more than you can eat within a few days if you happen to find a good deal.
But how long do cherries last? Cherries are very perishable. They don’t have a long shelf life, especially when left at room temperature. Kept on the kitchen counter, the shelf life of cherries is 1-2 days. Refrigerating extends the shelf life of cherries to 5 to 10 days. If you want the cherries to last longer, you have to choose between the alternative ways of preserving cherries.
In this article, you will learn not only how to store cherries and how long they are good for but also how to freeze and dehydrate them. The last two are two of the most popular ways of extending the shelf life of these fruits.
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Do Cherries Go Bad?
The shelf life of fresh cherries is not that long. Thus, you should either buy only as many cherries as you can eat within a few days or go for alternative methods of extending the shelf life of these stone fruits.
In general, the shelf life of cherries not only depends on how you store them but also the state of the fruits at the time of buying them.
The fresher the cherries are when you buy them the longer they will last. Here are a few simple rules for picking cherries.
First, pick cherries that have a firm and blemish-free skin. Some cherry varieties are naturally soft. You should consider this when buying them. Soft cherries don’t last as long as the firm ones do.
Secondly, make sure the stems are on and well-attached to the fruits. Missing stems are an indication of the fact that the cherries are not fresh. Fresh cherries have green stems. Brown and dried out stems are not a good sign.
Lastly, look at the overall color of the cherries. Although there are many cherry varieties, in most cases you should be looking for a concentration of the red color. The darker the red, the better. When choosing yellow cherries, make sure there are no brown spots on them.
So, knowing how to pick fresh cherries is the first step to making them keep well for longer. Once you have done this, you should decide how and where you are going to store the cherries.
How to Store Cherries?
You can keep cherries both at room temperature and in the fridge. Depending on how many cherries you have and how soon you are planning to eat them, you can leave cherries at room temperature or store them in the fridge.
If you have decided to leave cherries at room temperature, make sure to keep them away from sunlight. Cherries should also be stored away from any heat sources, such as the stovetop or the oven.
If you know you won’t be eating the cherries within the next couple of days, then you should definitely refrigerate them. Put cherries in the fridge as soon as you bring them home. Don’t leave them out for a day or two and only then transfer them into the fridge. You can leave a bowl of cherries out on the kitchen counter to snack on during the day.
When storing cherries in the fridge, put them in a bowl covered with cling wrap or a sealable plastic bag.
Covering cherries not only helps to keep them fresh but also prevents them from absorbing any odors from the fridge.
Additionally, it is recommended to wash the cherries before eating them rather than storing already washed cherries in the fridge. Apparently, doing this accelerates the deterioration process.
Another important rule to keep in mind is that you should never remove the stems of the cherries. You may find stemless cherries more appetizing. But removing the stems certainly doesn’t do these fruits any good.
How Long Do Cherries Last?
Cherries kept at room temperature have a shelf life of 1-2 days. If you want the cherries at their best, eat them within the first day of having them out on the kitchen counter.
Cherries stored in the fridge have a longer shelf life. If you store them properly, cherries will last up to 10 days in the fridge.
If you need the cherries to last longer or you have a large amount that you need to prevent from going bad, there are a few things you can do.
How Can You Make Cherries Last Longer?
There is a lot you can do with cherries in order to make them last longer. If you have bought too many cherries or harvested them from your own trees, here is what you can do to preserve them for later use.
Depending on how much time you have and how much effort you are willing to put in, you can choose between freezing cherries and dehydrating them. These are the most popular and easy methods for making cherries last longer.
Other methods include making cherry jam or jelly, preserving cherries in sugar syrup, brandy, vodka, etc.
Freezing cherries is the easiest thing to do. It is also very quick.
To freeze cherries, wash them and remove the stems. There is no need to remove the pits. However, you can do this, especially if you will be using the cherries for smoothies and baking purposes. In fact, as freezing cherries slightly affects their texture, you may not want to eat them on their own. Instead, frozen and defrosted cherries are great for pies, jams, muffins, sauces, etc.
Dry the cherries before freezing them.
Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Put the cherries on the tray making sure they don’t touch one another. Leave the cherries in the freezer for around 2 hours until they are all frozen and won’t stick to one another.
Put the cherries in airtight containers or plastic bags. Squeeze out the excess air when using zip-top bags. There is no need to freeze cherries in small portions as you can take out as many handfuls of cherries as necessary anytime you need them.
To defrost cherries, transfer them from the freezer into the fridge. It may take the cherries around 12 hours to defrost. To accelerate the thawing process, you can leave the bag with cherries under running water. It can be cold or lukewarm.
Thawing cherries in the microwave will cause major texture changes.
Cherries will last up to 8 months in the freezer. The flavor and texture will gradually deteriorate as they sit in the cold storage. Thus, use the cherries as soon as you get a chance.
If you have time, dehydrating cherries is a great way to preserve these delicious fruits for much longer.
You can dehydrate cherries both under the sun and in the oven. The latter is obviously the quicker method.
To dehydrate cherries, wash them, dry them, and remove the stems and the pits. Arrange the cherries on a baking pan leaving some space between them.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 165°F.
Leave the cherries in the oven for around an hour or until you see that there is no moisture left in them.
Put the cherries into the oven at 135°F for around 6 hours or until you see that there is no moisture left in the cherries.
Sun-drying cherries is also an option. However, it may take you up to 5 days to get the fruits all dried up.
Dehydrated cherries have a very long shelf life no matter where you store them. Dried cherries will keep for 9 months in the pantry in a tightly-sealed container or bag. You can also store dehydrated cherries in the fridge where they will keep for up to a year. Freezing extends the shelf life of dehydrated cherries to 2 years.
Signs That Cherries Have Gone Bad
The first sign that cherries are bad is their mushy texture. Unless the particular variety of cherry you have bought isn’t supposed to be soft, mushy cherries should be discarded.
Secondly, if you notice mold around the area where the stems are attached to the cherries, it is high time you tossed them out.
The last indicator of bad cherries is maggots. The chances of the cherries having worms in them are especially high if their stems are missing.
Every time you buy cherries, make sure to open a few of them to see if they are good or not. If you find a few cherries with worms in them, the chances are high that the rest are bad too.
If the cherries look good, taste them. So long as there are no signs of spoilage and the flavor is there, the cherries are good to eat.