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5 Ways to Preserve Sweet Cherries

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Fresh sweet cherries are a joy of the summer season. Thankfully, there are easy ways to preserve sweet cherries for the rest of the year. So stock up when you find a good deal and use those jewels for tasty preserves and gift giving too.

Sweet cherries on a wooden board.1. Brandied

Obviously this is an adult only treat but brandied cherries is one we enjoy quite a bit and making them is super easy.

Fill hot canning jars with cherries (pitted or not), leaving 1/2″ headspace.  Add 1/2 teaspoon raw sugar to half-pint jars, 1 teaspoon to pint jars.  Top the jars off (leaving the 1/2″ headspace) with brandy.  Put on lids and rings and process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes.  Store the jars in a cool, dark cabinet for at least 1 month (longer is even better) before eating.  Use a cheap brandy here, no need for the good stuff.

These make for great gifts.  Can them now and they’re ready for the holiday gift giving season.  We pour the brandied cherries over cake and ice cream or simply munch on them and drink the cherry infused brandy as an after dinner cordial.

2. Canned

We pit the cherries, first and then process quarts of them in an extra light sugar syrup.  Extra light is 1 1/4 Cups of Sugar to 5 1/2 Cups of Water.  You could, of course, use a heavier syrup if you so desire.

You also don’t have to pit, though the cherries might crack in the canning process.  It’s just convenient for us to pit prior to canning.  I always raw pack cherries because I find that easier but hot pack is for sure doable, if you’re inclined to do it that way.

Cherries should be processed in a water bath: raw pack pints & quarts for 25 minutes and hot pack is 15 minutes for pints and 20 minutes for quarts – adjust for altitude.  We quite literally just drain off the sugar syrup and eat the cherries straight from the jar all winter long.

5 Ways to Preserve Sweet Cherries - Homespun Seasonal Living

3. Frozen

Place pitted cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in the freezer for 2 hours or until frozen.  Remove from the tray and store in bags or jars for the long term.  Freezing them on the tray first prevents them from being one giant lump that is hard to separate without thawing the entire container at once.  This way you can scoop out just what you need for a recipe and put the container back in the freezer for another time.

These get used in smoothies and fruit crisps in our house.

4. Dehydrated

Obviously, fresh cherries can just be pitted and placed in a single layer on dehydrator trays and dried.  They can take a long time to dry, however.  A trick I learned from a local cherry orchard owner: freeze the pitted cherries first for a day (longer is fine), then thaw the cherries completely in a colander in the sink, letting all that excess water drain off.

Dry these thawed cherries in a single layer in the dehydrator.  The drying process will go much faster after the water has been released from the freezing / thawing process.

We toss these chewy bits into into oatmeal and baked goods all winter long.

5 Ways to Preserve Sweet Cherries - Homespun Seasonal Living

5. Miscellaneous Jams and Sauces

Before we had maple trees to tap, I used to make a lot of cherry conserve that we used as a syrup on breakfast pancakes.  I don’t make it as much these days but it is mighty tasty and again, a great gift.  I love the recipe for Black Forest Preserves in The Ball Complete Book of Home Preserving – cherries, coconut, and chocolate – yes please.

What’s your favorite way to preserve sweet cherries?

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Julia

Friday 22nd of May 2020

About how many cherries fit in a half pint or pint jar? I'm trying to figure it how many jars to buy to make your brandied cherries recipe...

Kathie Lapcevic

Sunday 24th of May 2020

11 pounds generally makes around 9 pint jars... it's not an exact science depending on size etc.

Melissa Hendrix

Tuesday 1st of August 2017

I have a bottle of blackberry brandy in my cupboard, would that work for the brandied cherries or would recommend a different kind?

Homespun Seasonal Living

Tuesday 1st of August 2017

Normally, I use plain but I think the blackberry would be tasty!

Maybelle Bonnet

Sunday 10th of July 2016

We live in the Turah area and have picked cheeries off our 3 trees for 10 years or more we have to cover them with netting as the birds have a feast off them if we don't .Have lot of family and friends to give too so they can enjoy our fruit of plenty I have done a lot with them but will try the brandy receipe now. Thanks

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 11th of July 2016

Oh those birds do enjoy the fresh fruits too, don't they? I hope you enjoy the brandied version.

KitchenGadgetJunkie

Thursday 30th of June 2016

Thanks for the "recipe" for brandied cherries - I tried it today. Will let you know in about 6 months how I like it :-P I'll be linking to your page with my blog post at kitchengadgetjunkie.com

Shannie

Monday 20th of July 2015

As another Flathead Valley resident (Hey there!) I adore our local cherries and can't wait until they're ripe. My husband and I actually argue about which side of the lake grows the best cherries. Thanks for the great ideas and recipes. We always buy too many and can't eat them all before they go bad, so this year I'm staring at a 20lb box of them and planning on some brandied cherries and some canning.

Dottie Edwards

Friday 24th of July 2015

I am from VA and was in the Flathead Valley when the cherries were in season nearly 30 years ago. I have to say that they were unquestionably the best cherries I have ever tasted. With all the spectacular beauty MT has to offer, the cherries are the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of MT. They were truly amazing.

Kathie

Tuesday 21st of July 2015

Oh, have so much fun! Those brandied are so good. I'm going to pick up some cherries this week for my own session of Flathead Cherry preservation (and eating).

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