Over two days I was GIVEN 62 lbs of cherries. 50 lbs were seconds and were small Tartarian cherries and the second batch was 12 lbs of large champagne cherries. Both tasted fantastic and were a huge treat! But to process all of these! There were certainly some late nights involved. But Brian stayed up with me and helped and it was almost like a date night! Working and chatting together… most of the time with a beer in hand!
I rarely buy cherries because of how much they cost and getting these were such a huge blessing! It was also a bit overwhelming having that much fruit that was in the process of going bad. The 50 lb batch had to be closely picked through and probably about 20 lbs had to be thrown out. It was sad to throw that many out, but it was also rewarding to save so many as well!
I really brainstormed how to get it all done, because I didn’t have fridge space to keep them and they wouldn’t keep till the next day to process. The first batch I de-stemmed, washed and picked through them and then put them in the dehydrator. I was hoping it would be easier to remove the pit after they were dry, but I was sorely mistaken. It did end up taking more work in the end, but there is no way I could have processed them all in one night unless I got no sleep which wasn’t really an option either.
Once they came out of the dehydrator they were a little larger than a raisin, but I still had to remove the pit. I was hoping the fruit would pull away from it a bit, but it didn’t. So I saved them for a few days until I had time to work on them some more. It worked to give me a bit more time to get them completed, but I don’t think I could have stored them that way as the pit wasn’t dried enough and they would have ended up molding.
My next idea was to rehydrate them in water and then try removing the pits and it worked!!! Really well! It took about 2 hours to remove all the pits. I ended up with a pint jar overflowing with just the pits. I think it was probably about 15-20 lbs of cherries I had dried. I ended up with a little more than a quart jar full once I redryed the fruit after the pits were removed.
So… in the end. This was the process:
Easy way to quickly preserve cherries that are going bad, but don’t have time to fully process.
- Wash, remove bad cherries and and de-stem
- Spread on dehydrator sheets and dehydrate overnight
- Remove from tray
- Soak in warm water for 2 hours
- Gently squeeze cherry or split the top with a fingernail and pit will pop out.
- Place back in the dehydrator overnight to fully dry.
We did save about 4 lbs to eat, and the rest we froze and dehydrated.
I’m SO excited about how I removed pits from the other 30ish lbs of fruit.
I used my food processor with the PLASTIC blade and coarsely chopped them!
They fruit wasn’t completely pureed, but was juicy and had pulled away from the pits. I then just picked the pits out of the fruit!
About half of the fruit I poured on deep cookie sheets and froze. When it was completely frozen I was able to cut it into large squares to store in gallon freezer bags. I plan on using these for making smoothies and sorbet or adding to kombucha.
The rest of the fruit I poured onto my non stick mats for the dehydrator and made fruit leathers. So with about 6 lbs of cherries I made 30 of the long leathers seen below, which can easily be shared between two children.
All said and done I think processing the cherries took about 6-7 hours total. A long time, but I’m grateful for what we now have in the freezer and on our shelf to enjoy through the winter.
I hope this helps as we are currently in cherry season. Let me know if you have other ideas to make this process simpler!