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5 Ways to Use and Preserve Sour Cherries

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Sour cherries can be one of the most under-appreciated fruits of summer. Which is such a shame because it is so very easy to use and preserve sour cherries.

It might be a little more work and maybe not the snack of choice but sour cherries most definitely have a place or a few places in our kitchens and pantries. Make the most of these often ignored fruits with one or more of these 5 ways to use and preserve sour cherries.

1. Dessert

Of course, pie is the most common use. Fresh cherry pie is an amazing thing and remember whole pies can be frozen for later too.

Sour cherry pie with jam and raw cherries on table.

Don’t get stuck on pie, however; there are so many other uses for sour cherries in dessert. Here are a few recipes to get those creative juices flowing:

Sour Cherry Pie

Peppered Sour Cherry & Goat Cheese Tarts

Sour Cherry Clafoutis

Cherry Coffee Cake

2. Freeze

Sour cherries are easily frozen for winter baking and more. Simply pit those cherries (this is the pitter, I use) and lay them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

Place in the freezer for a couple of hours until solid, then put the frozen cherries into a container and keep frozen until needed. Freezing them in a single layer first, means they don’t freeze into a solid mass in the container making it easier later to get only the amount needed for a recipe.

3. Can

Sour cherries can be canned in a water bath canner. There are no shortage of ideas and recipes for this method of cherry preservation:

Whole tart cherries in syrup

Canning Cherry Pie Filling

Brandied Cherry Berry Preserves

Sour Cherry Jam

Jars of brandied cherry berry preserves on a table with fresh berries and cherries.

Get more cherry jam and other ideas in my Fiercely D.I.Y. Guide to Jams & Jellies. 

4. Dehydrate

Sour cherries can be dehydrated for a number of uses in the kitchen. Freezing them first convinces them to give up excess water making the drying process go a bit faster. 

A basket full of fresh sour cherries

5. Homebrew

Sour cherries do indeed make for a delightful homemade wine. Here are some tasty, tart options:

Rhubarb Cherry Wine

A Basic Cherry Wine Recipe

Don’t let those sour cherries go to waste in favor of their sweeter cousins this summer. Put them to good use with these easy ideas. Also, don’t forget those pits can be put to good use too in homemade heating pads

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Chris

Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

This was my first summer being able to harvest from our sour cherry tree that we planted the year previous, and what a great crop! I was so busy however, that I had to put them right in the freezer and unfortunately I didn't pit them. I did not freeze the cherries in any kind of juice or liquid. Just froze them whole.

I'd like to preserve them now into cherry pie filling and my question is this: Once I thaw them, I know I'll have all kinds of natural juice in the ziplock. Do I pour this juice down the sink, or do I put all the juice into the pot with the cherries (after I've pitted them).

I ask this because I freeze my tomatoes whole and the first time I dumped all of the juice/water from the tomatoes down the sink and discovered that the sauce I made wasn't flavourful at all. Now I pour the tomatoes (after I've skinned them) and whatever liquid is in the bag into the pot and it's perfect.

Thanks for any advice you may have.

Kathie Lapcevic

Wednesday 3rd of October 2018

You're going to need to account for the extra moisture when you thicken. For pie filling, I'd thaw first and drain, then continue.

Wally

Sunday 24th of June 2018

I was led to believe that souer or biter cherry s are dangerous to eat of the three

Kathie Lapcevic

Monday 25th of June 2018

Do you mean choke cherries? Those are the same as sour pie cherries. There's no danger to eating sour cherries.

Justina

Sunday 6th of August 2017

I don't know if you still have this blog as active however im so happy i found it and this is my first fall where i have sour cherries at my fingertips and i cant wait to get right into many of your ideas!!

Homespun Seasonal Living

Monday 7th of August 2017

We are very much active around here. Enjoy those sour cherries!

Janine in Marion

Friday 15th of July 2016

Too funny; I just bought two cases of pie cherries from The Apple Barrel in Kalispell this afternoon to use in cherry liqueur and cherry wine recipes. Your timing is impeccable. Now I'll have a use for the leftover pits! Thank you.

Homespun Seasonal Living

Saturday 16th of July 2016

Yum! Have fun with those.

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