Proper harvesting and careful handling ensure that fresh cherries retain their delicious flavor and firm, juicy texture as long as possible. Are you wondering how to store cherries? Here are some tips on storing and handling cherries after harvest.
How to Handle Harvested Cherries
Once harvested, fresh cherries must be cooled as soon as possible to slow down the ripening process, as the quality will deteriorate quickly. Keep cherries in a shady spot until you can get them into the refrigerator or another cold storage.
Place the cherries in a sturdy plastic bag or container, but don’t wash them yet because the moisture will speed the decaying process. Wait and rinse the cherries with cold water when you’re ready to eat them.
Keep in mind that although the color may change, the quality of cherries doesn’t improve after harvest. Sweet cherries, such as Bing, stay fresh for about two to three weeks in the refrigerator, and sour cherries, such as Montmorency or Early Richmond, last about three to seven days. Both types may retain their quality for several months in commercial cold storage.
Discard cherries soon if they’re soft, mushy, bruised, split, or discolored. Get rid of them immediately if you notice mold where the stem was attached.
You can also freeze cherries, and they’ll last six to eight months. Pit the cherries or leave them whole, then spread them on a cookie sheet, in a single layer. Once the cherries are frozen, place them in a bag or container.
Ideal Temperatures for Post-Harvest Cherry Storage
Sweet cherries should be stored at 30 to 31 F. (approximately -1 C.). Storage for sour cherries should be slightly warmer, about 32 F. (0 C).
Relative humidity for both types of cherries should be between 90 and 95 percent; otherwise, the cherries are likely to dry out.