Fresh cherries are a favorite summertime treat, but did you know you can enjoy this delicious fruit all year long by drying them? And it’s easy to do too! Here’s a simple way you can dry them yourself…
- Select cherries that are ripe, plump and blemish free.
- Wash well in cool water and remove stems, pat dry.
- The cherries must be pitted before drying, you can do this by cutting each one in half and removing the seeds or keep them whole and use a cherry pitter (makes the job quicker too).
- Once they have been prepared, place pieces cut side up on baking trays (or dehydrator trays) and set in oven at 165° for about 3 hours.
- When the cut tops start looking wrinkled and leathery, reduce heat to 135°F for about 16 to 24 hours or until done.
- How to tell when they are done: They will be similar to raisins–hard but still pliable, a bit sticky and very wrinkled/leathery looking and hold no moisture (squeezing them will produce no liquid).
- You can dry them out in the sun, prepare them as noted above and leave on trays in a sunny location for anywhere from 2 to 4 days.
- Place the trays up off the ground to protect them from moisture.
- Keep the trays covered with cheese cloth to protect the fruit from the birds.
- Once they are fully dried, place the dried pieces in an oven preheated at 160°F for about 30 minutes (to kill off any insects).
- Once they are dried, allow pieces to rest at room temperature for about an hour before packaging. Then store in airtight containers or sealed bags.
- After packing for storage, watch the jars or containers for the first week–if you notice any signs of moisture forming inside this means the fruit isn’t fully dried and they won’t preserve well (mold will likely form). Remove the pieces and dry in the oven for a little longer.
- Dried cherries can be eaten just as they are for a nice snack, but they also work well in baking and as a topping for cereals, ice cream, yogurt, etc. (dried sour cherries work better in cooked or baked dishes).
- Most recipes that call for raisins work well with dried cherries, try replacing them for something different.
- Did you know: Cherries are pitted first before drying not only to make them more convenient to eat, but also because the stones will affect the taste of the dried pieces if left inside the fruit.