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Start With Fresh, Ripe Cherries
The best way to keep the sweet taste of fresh summer cherries around for later in the year is to freeze them. Luckily, it's super easy to freeze cherries at home; all you need is a freezer and a bit of time to pit the cherries.
There's a reason besides keeping that cherry taste around a bit longer to go to the trouble of freezing cherries: frozen cherries are also a delicious, magically cooling snack, especially on sweltering summer days. Eat them straight out of the freezer for a quick... and tasty cooling sensation.
Frozen cherries are also perfect to throw into smoothies since they act as a thickener (the same way ice does in a blended drink).
Plus, and perhaps best of all, frozen cherries can be added to baked goods just like fresh cherries can, no defrosting needed.
Start with ripe cherries. Rinse them and pat them dry.Continue to 2 of 3 below.
02 of 03
Pit the Cherries & Lay Them In a Single Layer
Working over a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or wax paper (or foil) to catch their juices, pit the cherries. If you have a pitter, use that, if not use an unbent paper clip, orange stick for manicures, or tweezers to dig into the center of each cherry, feel the pit, and pop it out.
Put the pitted cherries, including any juice they released while being pitted (if you have juicy cherries on hand, it can be a fair amount), on the baking sheet as you work. Put only as many cherries as fit... in a single layer on the pan. Use more pans as needed. They key is to keep the cherries in a single layer so they freeze evenly and don't freeze in clumps.Continue to 3 of 3 below.
03 of 03
Freeze the Cherries Overnight
Put the pan(s) of pitted cherries in the freezer and freeze them until they are completely frozen through, at least a few hours and up to overnight.
Once cherries are completely frozen, transfer them to a sealable plastic bag for long-term storage. Work out as much air from the container as possible. You can use a straw to suck the air out if you like. Less air in the bag will help keep the cherries from drying out.
Use frozen cherries in smoothies, shakes, or any baked goods in which you would... use fresh pitted cherries. I'm a big fan of this simple Cherry Smoothie, as well as a classic Cherry Clafoutis. This Cherry Puffy Pancake is fun, and if you have a lot of cherries to work through, it may be time to consider making a Cherry Cobbler or Brandied Cherries.
Remember, frozen cherries also taste great just as they are as a lovely, chilly treat.