When to Buy/In Season:
May to August. Sweet cherries are the first stone fruit to ripen, so use them as your guide to local seasons. The earlier cherries may lack flavor and be split or disfigured. White or Yellow Cherries, such as Rainier and Royal Ann, are available in late May and June. Bing cherries are ripen in mid-June, and at full season at the end of June.
How to Select:
Plump, bright-looking cherries ranging in color from light to bright red to purplish-black, depending on variety. The skin should be bright and without blemish. Since cherries grown in pairs or groups, look for naturally harvested cherries with stems still joined. Avoid fruit which is too soft or shriveled in appearance.
Organic sweet cherries are primarily sold fresh, but can be found frozen in supermarkets. Sour cherries are typically sold already canned. Dried cherries are also readily available. Tart or sour cherries are best for cooking; sweet cherries may be eaten fresh or used for cooking.
Sweet cherries are one of the most heavily sprayed conventional crops. Sweet cherries are susceptible to rot, and organic sweet cherries are often hybrids of sweet and sour breeds, such as Royal, Duke or other natural crossings. Organic sweet cherries are typically treated with Bordeaux (not the wine, but a mixture of sulfur and lime), or baking soda. Sour cherries are more resistant, and organically grown.
EWG 2009 Dirty Dozen, #7 for pesticide residue
How to Store:
refrigerate and use within 2 – 3 days
To Freeze Fresh Cherries:
Dry pack: Freeze loose in single layers on cookie trays until firm, then transfer into freezer bags or containers.Syrup Pack: Pack cherries into containers and cover with cold 50 per cent syrup. Leave headspace. Seal and freeze.Sugar Pack: To 1 quart (1 1/3 pounds) cherries add 2/3 cup sugar. Mix until sugar is dissolved. Pack into containers, leaving headspace. Seal and freeze.
Store in freezer 8 – 12 months.
See our Basics of Canning Fruit at Home
Home Canned cherries can be stored for up to 6 months; they may lose quality after that point. Commercially canned cherries can be stored up to 3 years.
Choose sweet or sour varieties. Wash, cut in half and remove pits. Dry at 165F for 2 – 3 hours, then dry at 135F until leathery and slighty sticky. Water content of sweet cherries is 80%, sour cherries is 84%.
Dried cherries may be stored 3 months at room temperature, or indefinetly in the freezer..
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