How To Freeze Dry Cherries

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Freeze Dried Fruits

Cherries are one of the most challenging fruits to freeze dry. But then, when you get it right, you’re rewarded with delicious freeze-dried food that’s awesome for recipes and snacking. Here’s how to freeze dry cherries so you’ll have perfect cherries that you can store long-term.

What Kind of Cherries Can I Freeze Dry?

You can freeze-dry any cherry you want. If you see some fabulous fresh cherries on sale, go for them. It can be Sweet Bing, Rainer, Chelan, English Morello, Maraschino, you name it. Bottled cherries also work well if you ever see them on sale.

Frozen cherries also work. They lessen the prep work because they’re already pitted. Freeze-drying them is also relatively short since the machine wouldn’t be working on freezing them.

How Do I Prepare the Fruit for Freeze Drying?

First is, of course, washing the fresh cherries to make sure you got clean ones. Especially if you got them from your local grocery store. Then handpick the best ripe ones, so they’re not too tart after freeze-drying.

The next thing you’ll need to do is to pit them. There are single pitters and six-pitters to help make your life easy. You can go manual if you fear the pitters will take out a bit of flesh. You may get a cleaner fruit, but it will take forever to finish.

Others leave the fruits as is, but we recommend splitting them into halves or quarters. The more surface area you have, the better your machine can work on freeze-drying your fruits.

cherries inside a wooden bowl.

Do I Pre-Freeze Them Before Freeze Drying?

It’s optional, but many find better success when pre-freezing their fruits overnight. Freeze drying works by sublimating ice into water vapor. The more ice crystals are in the cherries, the better the results you’ll get.

What’s great about using your deep freezer is that you get large ice crystals. These damage the cell walls of the cherries, yes, but they make for efficient freeze-drying. So don’t be afraid of pre-freezing your fruits before popping them in your freeze dryer.

If you’re going to pre-freeze, remember to use the same trays you’ll be freeze-drying them in. This way, you won’t partially thaw the fruit slices, and it helps keep the freeze-dryer temperature stable. Also, remember to line the trays with parchment paper because these babies will stick.

If you got frozen fruits from the grocery store, separate the pieces first. Others thaw them a bit by putting them under warm running water, but that could also wash away some of the flavor. It can help if you buzz them in the food processor instead, so you have smaller pieces to work with.

How To Freeze Dry Cherries

When you’ve got your cherries ready, line them on the tray on a single layer as much as possible. You can crowd them, but not too much so that there’s room for the water vapor to escape.

When your fruits are ready, it’s time to start freeze-drying.

  1. Turn on the machine and then press “START > NON-LIQUID”.
  2. Choose “NOT FROZEN” fresh cherries.
  3. For frozen cherries, choose “FROZEN” to pre-cool your machine to -8°F (-22 °C) or lower. This would probably take about 15-30 minutes.
  4. Close the drain valve when the freeze dryer tells you to, then put the trays in.
  5. Cover the chamber with the freeze dryer pillow if you have one, then close the door.
  6. Press “CONTINUE,” and the machine will start freeze-drying.

How Long Does It Take To Freeze Dry?

Believe it or not, freeze-drying cherries takes longer than freeze-drying beef jerky or bacon. Many experienced their machine taking 48-60 hours to freeze dry.

On your first try, you might find that your cherries aren’t fully dry or have this moist, gummy, and sticky consistency. Don’t worry about it; others have experienced the same. What they did was to put the trays back inside their deep freezer overnight, then rerun the cycle.

You may have to play with the freezing and drying temperatures a bit, but don’t go too high. It can also help if you’re there the moment the machine is done freeze-drying.

What Can I Do with Freeze-Dried Cherries?

You can use freeze-dried cherries for your favorite pie recipes. This Juicy Cherry Pie recipe uses fresh fruit, but you can try this one with reconstituted freeze-dried ones.

Another is this Spiced Cherry Chutney recipe. This uses frozen fruit but can also work with freeze-dried cherries. Just reconstitute the freeze-dried cherries and cook them to your desired chutney consistency.

If you like a good barbecue, why not try a Cherry Barbecue Sauce? This recipe brings out the distinct fruity tartness of the cherry without being too prominent and overpowering. Just add a bit of water so that the barbecue sauce doesn’t come out too thick.

pile of freeze dried cherries in small pieces.

Where Can I Buy Freeze Dried Cherries?

If you changed your mind about freeze-drying cherries and prefer to buy them instead, no judgment here. They take a while to prepare and process, so it’s a time saver to just buy a pack for small, instant needs.

Swanson Freeze Dried Tart Cherries Unsweetened

These are 2 ounces (56g) of pure tartness that goes well with yogurt, cereals, or baking recipes. It’s an expensive indulgence ($13) worth the purchase because they’re perfectly dry and tart. You won’t get any gummy pieces, and they plump up nicely when reconstituted.

Mother Earth Freeze Dried Cherries

If you’re used to eating dehydrated cherries, these are going to be a treat. They’re super crunchy and don’t have that chewy raisin-like consistency. Many love the sweet, tart taste that goes well with any recipe.

Harmony House Freeze Dried Cherries

Ever had a cherry that melts in your mouth? If not, then you’ll have a kick out of this. They’re so good for pies and desserts and a great way to enjoy orchard cherries all year long.

Have you freeze-dried cherries before? How was it, and what worked for you or not? Please tell us how you did it in the comment section.

We also have our Freeze Dried Guide YouTube Channel. We’ll share with you soon some freeze-drying videos, so please subscribe!

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