Learn how to make freeze dried cherries to have this decadent fruit on the shelf all year long. Get cherries on sale and freeze dry them!
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Early Summer we look forward to seeing what cherry trees on the property will provide for us. Since we planted all our trees from barefoot about 5 years ago, we’ve always had a small harvest…until this year. This year our Lapins cherry tree provided us with our first abundant harvest!
We enjoyed the fresh cherries straight off of the tree, but I wanted to run some through the freeze dryer to see how they turned out.
Freeze dried cherries taste like cherry candy. They are so easy to freeze dry, especially if you own a cherry pitter. It is a great way to make cherries shelf stable if you have an abundant harvest, or get a great deal at a farmer’s market or grocery store.
If you are looking to simply purchase freeze dried cherries, you can find an excellent source here.
Supplies you’ll need
- A home freeze dryer (we use this brand)
- Mylar Bags or Mason jars or another airtight container
- Oxygen absorbers
- Cherry pitter
Ingredients you’ll need to make freeze dried cherries
The only ingredient you will need to make freeze dried cherries are cherries. Choose cherries that are ripe and in season for the best results.
How to make freeze dried cherries
- Start cooling down the freeze dryer chamber.
- Remove the pit and stem from the cherry by pulling the stem and removing each pit in the cherry pitter.
- Slice the cherry in half, and lay each cherry half face up in one even layer on the freeze dryer tray.
- Load the freeze dryer (with the valve shut!).
- Press start and let the freeze dryer run for a full cycle (about 24 hours). Since the cherries have a skin they might take a little longer than other types of fruit.
- Check the cherries after the first cycle to see if they are dry. They should be crispy, and break between your fingers when squeezed. If they are not dry, or you are unsure, add a little more dry time.
- Once the cherries are dry, pack them into an airtight container, like a mylar bag or mason jar with an oxygen absorber. (It is important to not let them set out for too long since they will start absorbing the moisture in the air and could spoil.)
Tips for making freeze dried cherries
- Make sure cherries are completely dry. Before removing the cherries from the freeze dryer, be sure they are completely dry and crisp, so they don’t mold in storage. They should snap when they are broken. If you aren’t sure if they are completely dry, just add a little more dry time.
- Place the cherries face up on a single layer. Make sure that the cherries are not overlapping when they’re loaded into the freeze dryer tray.
- Pack them in an airtight container. Immediately before they have time absorb the moisture in the air, get the cherries into a freezer bag, mylar bag, or mason jar with an oxygen absorber. If you want to know more about how to seal food safely in mylar bags read this post HERE.
- Cherries need lots of dry time. We found that cherries take a bit longer than other types of fruit that we have done, they needed a good deal of dry time for us.
- Blend them up if you want a cherry fruit powder. This will speed up the dry time and allow for more cherries to be freeze dried at a time. Cherry powder is great in desserts and smoothies.
- Pit the cherries! Unpitted cherries won’t freeze-dry properly. The moisture needs to be completely removed from the cherry. With the pits in the middle, it will take much longer and might not be completely dried throughout. You’ll also want to remove the stems.
Commonly asked questions
Are freeze-dried cherries good?
Freeze dried cherries are full of nutrients, and taste like cherry candy. They are great for snacking, in oatmeal, smoothies, desserts, or even making a cherry syrup for pancakes.
How long do freeze-dried cherries last?
Freeze dried cherries will last up to one year if stored in a jar, or up to 25 years if stored properly sealed in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber. Just be sure that the cherries are 100% free of moisture.
Is it safe to eat freeze-dried fruit?
Yes. Freeze dried fruit is safe to consume, provided it was freeze dried and stored properly. Freeze dried fruit has 97% of the nutritional value of fresh fruit, just without the water content.
What can I do with freeze-dried cherries?
Freeze dried cherries are delicious a variety of ways! Here are some of our favorite ways to use them.
- Making cherry jam. Summer is a busy time and sometimes we don’t have time to make jam until the slower Fall & Winter months.
- Muffins. Adding freeze dried cherries into a muffin batter can a be a delicious way to use dried fruit.
- Desserts. Grind the cherry powder and add to homemade whipped cream, to add a beautiful color and flavor.
- Smoothies. Freeze dried fruit tastes great in smoothies. When you include liquid and ice in the smoothie the freeze dried fruit is undistinguishable from fresh because it is rehydrated.
- Cereal. Put finely chopped freeze dried cherries into oatmeal or other cereal grains for breakfast.
- Yogurt. Add freeze dried cherries to vanilla yogurt. It tastes like a delicious cherry dessert. Top your cherry yogurt with homemade granola, you you’ve got a decadent parfait!
Can I freeze dry frozen cherries?
Store-bought frozen cherries freeze dry beautifully! They take less time that fresh because they are already frozen and save time if they are already pitted. They also are typically cheaper than fresh, since you are not paying for the weight of the pit.