How To Dehydrate Cherries

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dehydrate-cherries

I love cherries. Doesn’t everyone? I mean they are so ingrained in our culture, from the story of George Washington chopping down the cherry tree to good old fashioned cherry pie. Then of course, most desserts wouldn’t be the same if they didn’t have a cherry on top.

I have dreams of owning a cherry tree or two but unfortunately they just don’t do well in Texas. So every summer, usually around the end of July,  I stock-up on cherries and preserve them to last throughout the year.  Buying them any other time of the year might break the bank as they are almost as the same price as rubies of the same size.

I started out with about 3 cases that were around 15lbs. I wish I could be more specific but when I got to the check-out at the store they just kind of guessed how many I had. It came out in my favor so I wasn’t going to complain. I ended up buying two more cases, saving some cherries back to make cherry jam (post coming soon). If I had to guess how many pounds fit into my 9 tray Excalibur dehydrator I would say about about 16-17 lbs, but don’t hold me to that because cherries vary in size and you may only want to use 5 trays instead of all 9. Let me explain and show you what I did.

How To Dehydrate Cherries

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 Take your cherries and wash them. Be sure to use a fruit and veggie wash.

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Now, for the fun part. The cherries have to be pitted. You can use various methods to pit cherries, including the straw method. I’m sure you’ve seen that pin somewhere on Pinterest . I haven’t actually tried that method but I have my doubts, because of the integrity of plastic vs. the metal of most cherry pitters. At times even the metal pitters have a hard time getting through the skin of a cherry (some of those skins can be tough), let alone 30+lbs of cherries.

In years past all people had was a knife so you made due with what you had. Fortunately, this year I have a new cherry pitter, one that will pit six cherries at a time. Let’s put it to the test!

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This is one of our old pitters. My mom gave me it to me. I’m really not sure of the brand, but it does a good job.

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This one is an OXO with a splash guard, but the splash guard is useless. This pitter splashes more than any pitter I’ve ever owned.

dehydrate-cherries

Of course many hands make for light work. My two younger boys have to work with no shirts so they can go right into the bath when they are done. Yeah, I won’t lie to you, it’s a messy job. Even my teenager was splashed with red when he was done.

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Here is the 6-in-one shot pitter in action.

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 All you do is load it up and push down.

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The pits are collected underneath the tray. I think I need to order two more.

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Here’s my Mom’s old pitter. It squints cherry juice everywhere but it’s still not as bad as the OXO.  I didn’t take a picture of the OXO, I didn’t want to get my camera that close.

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 Next, load your trays.

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As you can see I have the cherries packed fairly tight. There will still be enough room for air flow but there are a lot of cherries on my trays.

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I had so many cherries that I decided to use all 9 trays, but I did have to be careful how I loaded. The cherries are just tall enough to make pushing the trays in a problem. If you have time and not so many cherries you can just use every other tray and give yourself more room. I had a lot so I made it work.

dehydrate-cherries

I put the cherries on the fruit setting for 48 to 72 hours. It does take some time to dehydrate them. Also, I should mention that every time I’ve dehydrated cherries they’ve come right out of the fridge and so after a few hours there is a light layer of condensation under my dehydrator. I was worried about it at first because a plugged-in appliance sitting in water is never a good thing. Now that I know it happens I check on it every few hours for the first 4 hours (after that it’s not an issue) and wipe up any moisture underneath the dehydrator.

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 Here are the dehydrated cherries still on the Excalibur tray.

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I usually store the cherries in Mason jars. If I know they will be going into my long term storage I will place them in the freezer for a few weeks to make sure unwanted bacteria or insect eggs (for people who dehydrate outside) are neutralized.

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When I’m ready to place my dehydrated cherries into storage, I use Mason jars to store them in and I vacuum pack them with my FoodSaver.

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I love the wide mouth adapter. It fits the larger jars like the half gallon jar in the previous picture and then this 24oz jar.

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It even fits the smaller 16oz jars too. They also make an attachment for regular mouth jars.

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Place the band back on, label and put away. It’s that easy!

Video Demonstration Of Cherry Pitting And Dehydrating

Step by step directions on how to dehydrate cherries.
  • Tammy says:

    I have cherries in my deydrator as we speak and I wasn’t sure I did them correctly, so this post was perfect timing. It looks like I did it correctly, except that I cut my cherries. I always end up cutting them before using dried ones anyway and I thought they might dry faster cut in half. Right now, they look ok. What are your thoughts on cutting them? I see you didn’t.

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Tammy,
      Your cherries should be done faster than mine. I was just lazy and didn’t want to cut each one. However, doing so will definitely cut down the drying time.

  • Melissa Smith says:

    Just wondering how you use your cherries after they’re dehydrated?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Melissa,
      You can use the cherries in any kind of recipe that call for cherries. You’ll just need to reconstitute them first.

    • Gloria Webber says:

      I just throw them Whole into muffins the same as I would raisins! I don’t cut them up!
      Delicious!

  • Mary Ann Schultz says:

    Can they be left in the freezer if I don’t have the vacuum packer? I did this with cherry tomatoes a couple of years ago and they seemed to do fine in the freezer. Also, how do you recommend reconstituting them? Thanks for the info!

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Yes, you can keep the cherries in the freezer. To reconstitute your cherries cover them with water and let them sit for for 30 minutes to an hour.

  • Marty says:

    My family has a small cherry orchard in eastern Washington, so my husband and I thought we’d try drying cherries to enjoy year round. Did your dryer come with the screens/liners shown in the picture? We just bought a dryer and it has wire racks. As the cherries are drying, they are falling through the racks. I’m trying parchment paper, but some type of screen would be better. I also bought a Food Saver at Costco, but I haven’t even looked at it. I hope I have the thing for jars, that is super cool! I use a Norpro Deluxe Cherry Pitter, that works pretty well. Pitting cherries is messy business! Thank you so much for all the helpful information. πŸ™‚

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Marty,

      Yes the Excalibur comes with screens. You’re so lucky to have an orchard. What a blessing!

  • Megan says:

    It sounds like you started with about 45 pounds of cherries. Do you recall how many pounds this yielded after dehydrating?

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Megan,
      We buy a lot of cherries when they go on sale. The thing is, that you can dehydrate a pound of cherries or 45 pounds of cherries. I have not measured fresh cherries vs dehydrated cherries, but you might like this video that explains how to keep track of yield.

  • Karen says:

    Hello
    Just wondering where do you store them and how long do they last.

    Thank you
    Karen

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Karen,

      I store my cherries in vacuum packed Mason jars. At my house they don’t last more than a few weeks–I have 3 boys. However, they might last you a year or so if you store them in a cool dry place…..:)

  • Motherhiker says:

    If u dehydrate them with the pits in, won’t the pits just pop to the surface after you dry them?

    • Bill Osuch says:

      No, unfortunately they won’t – I’ve bitten into a couple that still had the pit in them that one of the boys had missed, and almost broke a tooth! πŸ™‚ It’s hard to tell even by looking that it still has the pit.

  • Sandra Gaile says:

    I caught cherries on sale for $.99 a lb. last summer and got about 30 lbs.. I did dehydrate them, except the ones I ate, and have used them in oatmeal and cookies so far. I reconstituted them for cookies, but not for oatmeal. This worked out good for me. Love cherries!

  • Deanna V. says:

    There is quite a bit of time difference between 48-72 hours, so how would I know they are done but not rocks?!

    • Jennifer Osuch says:

      Hi Deanna,

      The reason for the time difference is the size of your cherries, the environment that you live in (hot, cold, humid or dry). Then also it depends on what you want to do with your dehydrated cherries. If you want to place them in storage you need remove 90-95% of the moisture. If you want to snack on them, pull them out when they get to a texture that you like.

  • Mark says:

    I dry cherries at 140 f, and take between 26 and 30 hours. I do cut them in half. My first time I did 6 lbs and got 18 oz dried.
    Those were plain, dark, sweet cherries.
    Same kind, set a day with sugar after cutting, 4 lbs gave 11 oz, and 1 qt syrup. 28 hours were still soft and sticky, but have kept for over 6 months.
    I chop them, and mix into brownie dry ingredients by hand, breaking up the cherries into the small chopped pieces. A bit of cinnamon, touch of clove and allspice… yum.

  • Mike says:

    You mention several times that the cherries must be 90-95% moisture-free for LTS. How do you know when you’ve reached that moisture content? By dropping them on the counter and hearing the sound they make, like in the video – or is there a more accurate way?

    Also, for the LTS, could you use Mylar bags with oxygen absorbers?

    Thanks

  • Jim says:

    Hi Jennifer
    I too have issues with moisture build up under my Excalibur Dehydrator which at times and with different fruit will leave a lot of moisture in the tray we sit it on. None of my fruit comes out of the refrigerator, rather straight off the trees and to me it seems to be how moist the fruit is and the air humidity. I usually do mine on the verandah to avoid noise inside at night time so the out side weather conditions do play a part.
    It is great to eat up to 15 different types of fruit in a day, all out of season yet home grown!
    While on dehydrating, I have just checked through our frig and found a bag of dried potatoes probably 5 years old and they are perfect. We had a glut then so tried some to see how they would go and forgot about them.

  • Lav says:

    Hello Jennifer
    We love our Norpro cherry stoner-pitter. Is only about $15.00 but you put a cup full of cherries into a hopper and just bop the spring-loaded pitter. It goes very, very fast. The body of it is mostly is plastic so my boys were a little rough and have broken two in the past. But it’s so worth it.
    Yes, with any cherry pitting you have to make sure you get all the pits out, they are so easy to miss. I found that after a cup or two are done pitting I bounce the cherries on a glass place and sometimes you can find pits or even lightly smashing on a plate, which will also help them fit the dryer sheets better.

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