Preserving the jewels of the season!
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Fresh cherries in a blue bowl.
Credit: Arkadiusz Fajer/Getty Images

Sweet, sour, and subtly floral all at once, cherries are a jewel of early summer. Whether baked into a breakfast custard, used for an old-school Cherries Jubilee or simply eaten on their own, cherries never fail to delight. However, as badly as we wish it were longer, cherry season is always quite brief, so it's crucial to take advantage of these fruits while they're at their best.

Since cherries don't ripen off the tree, like how a banana does, they can be enjoyed fresh from the grocery store or farmer's market. When shopping for cherries, look for those that have bright green stems and shiny skins with bold colors. The tastiest cherries should feel dense, firm, and plump with no bruising or signs of spoilage.

Read on for our best advice for how to store cherries to keep them fresh and delicious for as long as possible.

How to Store Cherries

Keep 'em cold! Cherries will spoil quickly if left out at room temperature, so you should pop them in the refrigerator immediately upon getting home from the grocery store. Once in the fridge, cherries can last for about a week. No need to cover them; in fact, they're better off uncovered to avoid moisture accumulation, which can contribute to spoilage.

Refrain from rinsing your cherries until right before you're ready to cook with or eat them. When you wash fruits and veggies, water can seep inside the skin and cause them to go bad at a faster rate. The same is true for cherries, so hold off on giving them a rinse until it's go time.

On that note, don't de-stem cherries until the last minute either; cherries' bright green stems indicate freshness, and leaving them attached will help preserve the fruit.

Can You Freeze Cherries?

Yes! You can (and should) freeze cherries so you can enjoy them all year round. Keep in mind that they'll lose some shape in the freezer, but they'll still be perfect for all the jams, smoothies, cobblers, and syrups your heart desires.

Ready to freeze some cherries? Here are the steps to take:

  1. Begin by choosing beautiful, ripe cherries (the state at which you freeze them is how they'll stay!)
  2. Place the cherries in a colander and rinse them with cold water, using your hands to gently move them around.
  3. Pat dry with kitchen towels or paper towels.
  4. Remove the stems.
  5. Pit the cherries, either with a cherry pitter or by halving them and pulling out the pit.
  6. Spread out the pitted cherries in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and place in the freezer until solid. (This step will take around two hours.)
  7. Move the cherries to a freezer-safe, air-tight container, and transfer to the freezer.

Cherries that have been in the freezer can be used without thawing in smoothies, baked goods, or sauces, but there are ways to defrost them as well. To defrost cherries, you can simply move the food storage container from the freezer to the refrigerator for several hours. If you'd rather defrost a small amount of cherries, simply remove the desired amount of cherries from the freezer and place them in a bowl covered with plastic wrap in the fridge overnight. To speed up the thawing process, you can also place a sealed bag of cherries in a bowl of cold water.