How to dehydrate cherries so you can enjoy a sweet all-natural snack during the dreary winter months. The end of fresh sweet cherry season is here.
If you want to savor the flavors of summer long after cherry season one of the easiest ways to preserve cherries is to dehydrate them.
Special equipment needed to make dried cherries
- a cherry pitter: I recommend the OXO Good Grips Cherry Pitter. You can read my Best Cherry Pitter post to learn why.
- food dehydrator: an inexpensive round food dehydrator works fine. I have been using the Presto Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator for the past couple of years and have been happy with it.
- If you plan on preserving by dehydrating on a regular basis it would be a good idea to invest in a more expensive dehydrator which will allow you to control the temperature and have larger trays that will allow you to dehydrate a large number of fruits and vegetables at one time. I've had my eye on the Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator with Temperature Settings.
Ways To Dehydrate Produce
There are a couple of different ways you can dehydrate fresh fruits and vegetables like fresh cherries.
- Sun-drying: You can dry cherries outside in the hot sun using a Non-Electric, Environmentally Friendly, Natural Food Dehydrator that is made with mesh-covered tray baskets that hang outside in the sun. Here in Florida, this type of dehydrating will not work because of all the summer rain and humidity we have. If it rains frequently where you live unless you have a covered barn or another covered area that will protect the natural food dehydrator from the rain this method will not work for you either.
- Sun-drying fruits, vegetables, and herbs were the only way they could preserve food by drying back in the day before anyone ever thought of electric dehydrators. Only they didn't have mesh to protect the food from bugs and animals as you can buy now.
- Oven dehydrating: You can also use your kitchen oven to dry fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs by spreading the food out on a large baking sheet and using your oven to dry the food like I did when I made peach fruit roll-ups and apple cinnamon fruit roll-ups.
- Dehydrating produce in the oven can be done but you will have to keep a close eye on it and keep the oven door wedged open to keep the oven from getting too hot which will heat up the house. If you do not want to heat up your house the Presto Electric Food Dehydrator is your best option.
- Caution: If the temp on your oven can't be turned down low enough there is a good chance that the fresh produce you are dehydrating could end up over dry and ruined. Costing you time, money and your ingredients as you scrap them into the trash can.
How to Dehydrate Cherries
My preferred method of drying cherries and other summer produce is to use an inexpensive electric dehydrator. These types of food dehydrators are very inexpensive and can be bought at most retail outlets.
Dehydrating is a very easy and uncomplicated food preservation method.
- Step 1: Prepare the fruit. Depending on the fruit or vegetable you are dehydrating the preparation method will vary. To dehydrate fresh whole cherries, you will need to stem and pit the cherries. Here is my favorite cherry pitter.
- Step 2: Next you will load the dehydrator with the pitted cherries. Place the cherries close together on the dehydrator tray but leave enough room between each whole cherry for airflow and so they are not touching. If the cherries are packed too closely together on the dehydrator drying tray you risk a chance of the cherries sticking together.
- Step 3: Dehydrate the cherries until all the moisture has been removed. Whole cherries will take longer to dehydrate compared to cherry halves. It can take anywhere from 12 to 18 hours to dehydrate cherries. You want all the moisture removed from the fruit. If all of the moisture is not removed from the dried fruit it will mold when stored. Dehydrated cherries are done when they are no longer moist. They should be completely dry but, still feel slightly tacky to the touch, like a raisin.
How to store dehydrated fruit?
- Properly dehydrated cherries can be stored in a number of ways. You can store the dried cherries in a mason jar with a lid kept in a dark cabinet.
- You can store the dried cherries in plastic bags or plastic food storage containers in a dark cabinet.
- You can store dried cherries in the refrigerator or freezer in plastic bags or food-grade plastic containers.
What are dried cherries good for?
Now that you have a supply of dried cherries what are you going to do with them?
- Dried cherries are a very healthy snack option. Dried cherries are packed full of vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin D all of which boost the immune system and help fight off illness making dried cherries a very smart snack option for the cold winter months.
- Homemade dried cherries are made without any other sugar then the natural sugars that are in already in fresh sweet cherries. Once dried the natural sugars in dehydrated cherries are intensified.
How do you reconstitute dried cherries?
Dried cherries can be reconstituted and used in desserts much like fresh cherries.
To reconstitute dried cherries and plump them up so you can make your favorite cherry desserts you will need to soak the dried cherries until the absorb enough water to plump them up.
For each cup of dried cherries, you will need to soak them in half the amount of liquid.
- You can quickly reconstitute dried cherries by placing one cup of dried cherries and ½ a cup of water into a saucepan.
- Bring the cherries and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the cherries for about 10 minutes or until the cherries are soft and plump.
- Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the cherries to cool.
- Once cool strain the reconstituted cherries through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the excess liquid.
- Use the reconstituted dried cherries in pies, cakes and any other dessert calling for fresh cherries.
- Save the cherry liquid and use it to flavor iced tea.
More dehydrated fruit recipes
Here are more fruits you can dehydrate to make dried snacks.
How To Dehydrate Cherries
- 2 pounds pitted fresh sweet cherries
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- Wash, stem and pit the fresh cheeries.
- Place the lemon juice into a bowl and as you are pitting the cherries put them in the bowl and toss them to cover them with the lemon juice.
- Once all of the cherries are pitted begin loading the first tray of your dehydrator. Fill the tray with pitted cherries leaving a gap between each cherry so they are not touching. Continue filling each tray and stacking it on top of the previous dehydrator tray.
- Once all the trays are filled with cherries place the lid on top of the dehydrator.
- Turn the deydrator on and dry the cherries for 16 to 18 hours or until the cherries are dry but still slightly tacky to the touch.
- Store in an airtight container.
Recipe Expert Tips
- How to rehydrate dried cherries: You can quickly reconstitute dried cherries by placing one cup of dried cherries and ½ a cup of water into a saucepan. Bring the cherries and water to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer the cherries for about 10 minutes or until the cherries are soft and plump. Remove the saucepan from the heat and allow the cherries to cool. Once cool strain the reconstituted cherries through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the excess liquid.
- How to use: Use the reconstituted dried cherries in pies, cakes and any other dessert calling for fresh cherries.
- Save the cherry liquid and use it to flavor iced tea.