Why You Should Store Cherries With The Stems On

Cherries are one of the ultimate summer treats. Not only is it the time of the year when they are at their peak in terms of growing and flavor, but they are refreshing, delicious, and, according to WebMD, packed with nutrients like fiber, minerals, and vitamins C, A, and K. Much of their beauty lies in their fleeting nature, which is more than enough reason people should enjoy them as much as they can once they start hitting supermarket shelves. 

People make a few common mistakes with cherries, but perhaps the most important thing to remember is how to store them properly. If they spoil in your fridge before you can eat them, an angel loses its wings. Thankfully, there are some great tips you can use at home to help keep those cherries plump and fresh — and believe it or not, it all starts with the stems. Here's why: Cherry stems are the fruit's natural protection against moisture exposure, the number one culprit in causing spoilage. You may think you're making someone's life a bit easier by pre-discarding something inedible, but you're inviting mold and bacteria to fester in the exposed cherry top. 

Even if you've done everything else right, like removing any excess moisture before storing and keeping cherries in a perforated plastic bag for airflow, there is no eliminating moisture from the fridge, meaning stemless cherries are always at risk.

How to make cherries last even longer at home

Refrigerators are the ideal way to store cherries compared to leaving them out at room temperature, but this only keeps cherries fresh for up to a few days. This is perfect for after you've bought a small bag from the market and can finish it quickly, but what about a situation where you get a large bag from a cherry-picking outing? Or what about times when you've gotten a multi-pound bag from a friend who farms them? 

The first thing you should do if you get free cherries is hug that person, but the second thing you should do is prepare the bulk of those cherries for the freezer. And no, you shouldn't just stick the whole bag in the freezer. 

The first step involves discarding any spoiled cherries, rinsing the rest, and thoroughly patting the entire batch dry. After that, remove all stems and pits. While this runs counter to the advice for storing in the refrigerator, frozen cherries are best used in applications like homemade smoothies, pies, and jams. Therefore, removing these components before freezing saves a lot of hassle in the future. Then, it's just a matter of batch-freezing the cherries individually laid out on sheet trays to avoid them freezing in large clumps that are difficult to separate. Keep your cherries in a silicone bag or airtight container and enjoy the fresh taste of summer for up to a year!