Dehydrated cherries are a delicious, compact, and hearty snack. These dried cherries can also be added into baked goods, in desserts such as compotes and as a salad topping. Whether your choice is to can them or freeze, dry the cherries, keep in mind that the fresher the cherries you pick, the tastier the dried version will turn out.
Let’s get started with how to dehydrate cherries.
What You Need to Dehydrate Cherries
- A food dehydrator: an economical food dehydrator works fine. Something like the Presto 06301 dehydrator should be ok to use, but if you are dehydrating regularly, then it is better to buy a high-end food dehydrator to dry more food and have better control.
- Cherry pitter.
Wash the Fresh Cherries
The first step is to clean the cherries by washing them and let them dry in a colander for several minutes. Once the drying is done, then you need to remove and discard the stems.
Pitting the Cherries
Pitting cherries can be a tiresome task for any preservation method or cherry recipe. There are ways to make this easier for you with an item such as the OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter.
Load Cherries onto Dehydrator Trays
Prepare cherries on the food dehydrator trays so that there is space surrounding each piece of cherry; the reason for this is so the fruit doesn’t get stuck together.
How to Dehydrate Cherries
The next step is to set the temperature of the food dehydrator to 165 F/74 C. Some dehydrator machines don’t have high settings that go this far: if that’s the case with your dehydrator, use the highest temp settings you can. Dehydrate the cherries at this temperature for two to three hours.
Lower the temperature to 135 F/57 C and dehydrate the cherries for a further 10 – 20 hours, depending on the size of the cherries. The cherries should feel dry to the touch, but still, leathery and somewhat pliable.
Uses for Dehydrated Cherries
- Snacking on the go.
- Trail Mix
- Oatmeal Cookies
- You can combine them with chopped roasted walnuts and sliced pear over a bed of dark leafy greens, such as spinach or arugula. They also work great in grain salads, for example, a mixture of quinoa, fresh mint, dehydrated cherries, sliced oranges, and an orange juice vinaigrette. Alternatively, you can also add them to tuna or chicken salad for use in sandwiches, or bake them into wholegrain muffins.
How to Cool the Dehydrated Cherries
To make sure the cherries are thoroughly dried you have to wait until they have completely cooled (the dried fruit should be similar to how cookies up after you take them out of the oven). Switch off the food dehydrator and open it. Leave the dried cherried to cool on the trays for 20 to 30 minutes.
After the cherries have been cooled, break one of the dehydrated cherries in half. There should be no noticeable moisture along the surface of the break.
Conditioning the Dehydrated Cherries
Even after the cherries are entirely dried, there might be some remaining moisture in the dried fruit. This shouldn’t be enough to prevent the cherries from being carefully preserved and mold free. But you’ll have a more delicious, better product if you do what is called “conditioning” the dehydrated fruit.
Put the dehydrated, cooled cherries into glass jars, only fill the jars about 2/3 full. Cover the jars. Shake the jars a couple of times daily for a week. The jar redistributes the dried cherries as well as any condensation the fruit may still contain. If any condensation shows up on the sides of the jars, your cherry isn’t dehydrated well just yet, and it needs to go back into the food dehydrator for a few more hours.
Once you have finished with conditioning your dried cherries, you need to store them in an airtight container away from heat or direct light. It’s ok to fill the jars fully at this point: the 2/3 full was just for the conditioning side when you needed to be able to shake the pieces around.
How Long Does It Take to Dehydrate Cherries
Depending on the moisture content, your humidity, your food dehydrator, and whether you’ve cut the cherries or are leaving them intact, your dehydrating times may vary.
Benefits of Dehydrated Cherries
- They are a good source of copper.
- It boosts your intake of vitamin C
- Each quarter of cup serving of dehydrated cherries boasts a vitamin A content of 1,132 international units.
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