When 30 pounds of sweet Washington Bings unexpectedly appeared on my doorstep last summer, I spent several days immersed in All Things Cherry. Even after I made cherry pies for family, friends, and neighbors, I had many, many pounds left and so I got to work preserving the bounty. It was a great learning experience and now that I have spent a year tasting the results, I'm happy to share these 10 terrific ways to preserve cherries…
Frozen cherriesCherries freeze really well, and you can use them throughout the year in smoothies, cobblers, and more (my personal favorite is snacking on them straight from the freezer). For a quick and easy freezing procedure, see How To Choose and Store Cherries. You can also pack them in syrup; instructions are available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Dried cherriesDried cherries are wonderful in homemade granola, grain salads, and baked goods. A dehydrator is handy but as we've shared here on The Kitchn, Yes, You Can Dry Fruit in the Oven! For additional tips, check out the Drying Fruits information from Colorado State University Cooperative Extension.
Cherry jamMany people prefer sour cherries for jam. However, sweet cherries also make lovely preserves, and you can give them some extra dimension by stirring in a splash of Balsamic vinegar and a crack of black pepper at the end of cooking. For canning, I used a recipe from Ball. For a more free-form refrigerator jam, David Lebovitz has a nice recipe.
Pickled cherriesSweet and sour pickled cherries were one of my favorite discoveries last year, and I loved serving them as an accompaniment to cheese. I tried several recipes and loved Michael Symon's combination of spices like orange zest, peppercorns, cinnamon, and coriander. Chef Symon also recommends serving the cherries with poultry and pork.
Whole canned cherriesThis is actually the one method I haven't tried yet because I always assumed canned fruit had to be packed in overly sweet syrup. After learning how to can mandarin oranges in very light syrup and fruit juice this year – with great results – I plan to do with same with cherries. Safe canning procedures are available at the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Maraschino cherriesMy partner is allergic to alcohol, so I tried Nick Mautone's recipe for No-Booze Maraschino Cherries. They were a big hit, and we enjoyed them in sodas and ice cream sundaes for months. If you prefer a boozy version, check out The Kitchn's review of Melissa Clark's DIY Maraschino Cherries.
Cherry vinegarAny kind of vinegar may be flavored with cherries, and I found that even inexpensive Balsamic tasted outstanding after several months (I gave out bottles as Christmas gifts). Check out Dana's post on Improvisational Cherry Vinegar and Clemson Cooperative Extension's information on Flavored Vinegars.
Cherry shrubBack in January, I unearthed a bottle of red wine vinegar and cherry shrub from the back of the fridge. Sipping on this tart and sweet drink transported me straight to summer, and I can't wait to make more this year. I'll be sharing a different shrub method on The Kitchn soon, but last year I used the Serious Eats cold brew process and it worked quite well.
Cherry bounceAfter reading about cherry bounce at Food in Jars, I went on a bounce extravaganza, researching historical and modern-day recipes for this liqueur. (Martha Washington even wrote about cherry bounce in her diary.) My favorite version ended up being a 1966 recipe from Gourmet, which contains brandy, rum, mace, and allspice. Perfect for sipping on winter evenings.
Boozy cherriesBoozy cherries make a fine garnish for cocktails and ice cream – and you wind up with cherry-infused liqueur, too. I especially enjoyed bourbon-soaked cherries, using this simple method from Food Woolf. For more cherry and liquor combinations, see DIY Recipe: Boozy Cherries 2½ Ways.
Do you have any other ideas to add?
Related: How To Choose and Store Cherries
(Images: Emily Ho)