Cherries are one of the most loved and gluttonous summer fruits: their seasonality is however very limited and in practice, they “disappear” from the market after a few weeks. Fortunately, there are various techniques and methods to preserve cherries and enjoy them even out of season: from the fridge to the freezer, passing through cherries in syrup, in alcohol. Or in sugar to jams, let’s take a look at the preparations that allow us to savor this fruit throughout the year.
By their very nature, cherries are short-term seasonal fruits and are easily perishable; in reality, the process of decay begins already at the moment of harvesting: in a short time, the fruit loses its brilliance and withers. And even the peduncle changes color and no longer has a beautiful bright green tint.
On the market, they are generally found only from May to July. And if we want to make them last and consume them for a longer period of time we must therefore know. And apply the different techniques we have available: in general, the life of the cherry lasts at most up to 5 days after the time of purchase. If well stored in a dark paper bag in an environment with constant humidity.
But with the preparations that we will see we can extend the quality and the characteristic and pleasant aesthetic appearance up to a month or even more, depending on the chosen procedure.
The first step is to choose firm cherries, with bright color and with the stalk still green, already at the time of purchase: one of the qualities that offer greater results is the Vignola, and generally, it is advisable to prefer the red colored fruits tending to Bruno. We will rain our fruits with very cold water, to lower the temperature and stop dehydration. And then we will dry them without applying too much pressure.
Now we can put the cherries in a plastic food bag and store them in the fridge, at a temperature of 0-4 degrees: this technique will make us extend the freshness of the fruit by at least two weeks up to a maximum of 4. Before eating them, we will leave them to remain at room temperature for an hour to avoid them being too cold on the palate.
There are at least four ways of preserving cherries that allow us to make these fruits last up to a year of life: we can freeze them to use them as a filling for sweets and cakes, put them in alcohol, make fruit in syrup or store them in sugar.
These four types of preserves are very ancient and have some traits and indications in common: for example, you must use cherries that are not overly ripe, to be used whole (therefore without removing the core), already well washed, and air-dried on a clean cloth.
Let’s start with the simplest technique, which simply involves freezing cherries in the home freezer. It is important to avoid that the fruit becomes a single compact block, impossible to disassemble. And therefore we must arrange for the cherries ready on a baking tray or a grate, to be put in the fridge for an hour and then later in the freezer.
Once this operation is completed, the cherries will by now be hardened but still well divided individually. So we take a bag and, after having closed it carefully, put it in the freezer: the fruit will keep well for three months and will be practically ready to use for our sweet or cherry smoothies even in autumn or winter.
The syrup technique is one of the most widespread in Italian homes “of the past”: it simply involves combining the fruits with a sugary syrup, keeping the mixture thus obtained is sterilized and hermetically sealed jars.
To make the cherries in syrup we must first prepare the syrup by mixing a liter of water with two ounces of sugar in a saucepan, bringing it to the boil for a minute, and then waiting until it cools down completely. The important thing is that the sugar dissolves completely and that the syrup is transparent.
The amount of sugar to use for the syrup actually depends on the type of cherries we use: if we realize that the fruit is bitter, for example, we will put 4 ounces of sugar for a liter of water, while for the sweeter ones we will only need 150 grams of sugar.
Now we take the cherries already washed and dried and put them in the jars, without pressing and crushing them too much, and we fill everything with our syrup: now we will pass to the sterilization of the jars, and then store everything in a cool and dark place. Prepared in this way, the cherries in syrup last three months.
There are also some variations: for example, we can keep the stone or stone the cherries first, or we can cook the fruits first. This technique, also useful for making sour cherries in syrup, which involves putting the cherries in a pot and cooking without adding water: when they release liquid we will add the sugar (the proportion is 4 kilos of sugar per 3 kilos of fruit, always paying attention first to their taste) and boil for another 20 minutes, before proceeding to packaging the jars.
This is also an ancient method to enjoy this much-loved fruit for longer: it consists of alternating a layer of washed and dried cherries with a layer of sugar inside a sterilized jar, to fill the measure. Before consuming the product we must let it dry in a sunny place for 40 days: the cherries prepared in this way can be kept for 6 months.