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
Take your cherries and wash them. Be sure to use a fruit and veggie wash.
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!
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.
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.
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.
Here is the 6-in-one shot pitter in action.
All you do is load it up and push down.
The pits are collected underneath the tray. I think I need to order two more.
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.
Next, load your trays.
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.
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.
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.
Here are the dehydrated cherries still on the Excalibur tray.
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.
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.
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.
It even fits the smaller 16oz jars too. They also make an attachment for regular mouth jars.
Place the band back on, label and put away. It’s that easy!