Ultimate Guide to Perfect Oven Dried Cherries at Home

Turn fresh cherries into a year-round treat by oven drying them at home. We’ll show you the key steps to properly dry cherries, achieving that ideal balance of sweetness and texture without the need for special equipment. Get ready to stock your pantry with home-prepared oven dried cherries that are perfect for snacking or baking delights.

Key Takeaways

  • Select ripe, blemish-free cherries for optimal drying, and use a cherry pitter for even results – you can dry both fresh and thawed frozen cherries.

  • Spread cherries on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper in a single layer, leaving space between them, and choose between whole or halved cherries based on drying time preference.

  • After drying cherries in the oven, let them cool completely, condition them by shaking daily for a week in a sealed container, and store in airtight containers or freeze for longer preservation.

Choosing the Best Cherries for Drying

A variety of fresh ripe cherries

When it comes to drying cherries, not all cherries are created equal. The cherries you choose can make or break your drying endeavors. Look for cherries with smooth, shiny skin and no blemishes. They should be fully ripe but not overly so. Avoid cherries that look bad or moldy—this applies to both sour and tart varieties, as well as cherries dry.

Also, consider the timing. It’s optimal to pick cherries for drying when they are fresh and locally grown. This way, you ensure that your dried cherries are packed with flavor and natural sweetness.

But what if you can’t find fresh cherries? Don’t fret! You can still dry frozen cherries. Just make sure to thaw and drain them thoroughly before starting the drying process.

Preparing Your Cherries for the Oven

Cherries being pitted and cleaned on a baking sheet

Having selected the perfect cherries, it’s now time to prepare them for the oven. Start by rinsing your cherries under cool, running water. Want to be extra sure they’re clean? Try adding ¼ cup of distilled white vinegar to a bowl of water for an extra cleaning step.

Cleaning is only part of the process. Pitting the cherries is the next crucial step. A cherry pitter is your best friend here. Tools like the OXO Good Grips Cherry and Olive Pitter or the Leifheit Cherry Pitter with Stone Catcher make pitting cherries a breeze while maintaining the fruit’s integrity for even drying.

Ensuring Evenly Pitted Cherries

So, why is the pitting process so vital? Well, leaving pits in can lead to uneven drying. To avoid this, you can use a cherry pitter or, in a pinch, a straw or decorating tip can work too. Push the pit out from the spot where the stem attaches to the cherry.

Don’t have a cherry pitter? No problem! You can also use a chopstick, a knife, or a fruit fork for consistent pitting results. This will help you achieve evenly dried cherries that are perfect for snacking or adding to your favorite recipes.

To Cut or Not to Cut?

Now, another question arises: should you cut your cherries before drying or not? Using cherry halves can speed up the drying process and make them more flexible for different uses. But it requires a bit more work upfront, especially when using a food dehydrator.

On the other hand, leaving cherries whole can make the final product better, giving results similar to freeze drying. So, it really depends on what you prefer: a faster drying time or a possibly better end result. Remember, whole cherries typically take 12 to 18 hours to dry, but if you cut them in half, the drying time can be significantly reduced.

Setting Up for Success: Arranging Cherries on Baking Sheets

Cherries arranged in a single layer on a baking sheet

Let us now discuss the process of arranging your cherries for drying. You want to spread them out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Make sure to leave a little space between each cherry. This step is vital for ensuring even drying.

Before you start arranging, line your baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat mat. This will prevent your cherries from sticking to the sheet during the drying process. Now, you’re all set to start the drying process!

Mastering the Oven Method for Drying Cherries

Oven with cherries inside undergoing the drying process

In the process of oven drying cherries, maintaining the right temperature is paramount. While some people swear by a temperature of around 200°F (93°C), others recommend going as low as 140°F (60°C) or simply using the lowest setting on your oven, which could be around 170°F (77°C).

Once your oven is preheated, follow these steps to bake the cherries in the oven:

  1. Spread the cherries evenly on a wire rack or a baking pan lined with parchment paper.

  2. Pop them in the oven and bake for about 6 to 10 hours, making sure to rotate the trays every 2-3 hours.

  3. The exact time will depend on your oven temperature.

Monitoring Your Cherries’ Drying Progress

It’s essential to monitor your cherries throughout the drying process. After around 10 hours, take a peek at your cherries. They should be shriveling up nicely at this point.

To ensure even drying, follow these steps:

  1. Rotate the cherries every 30 minutes. This might seem like a lot of work, but trust us, it’s worth it!

  2. By the end of the drying process, your cherries should have a shriveled texture, similar to raisins.

  3. They should feel totally dry to the touch but still be leathery and somewhat pliable.

Cooling Down: Let Cherries Cool Completely

After their time in the oven, your cherries will be hot and it’s vital that they are left to cool down completely before proceeding to the next stage. This helps maintain their flavor, nutrients, and ensures they won’t spoil quickly.

Letting your cherries cool might take some patience, but it’s worth it. It usually takes around 12-36+ hours for oven-dried cherries to cool down completely. So, resist the temptation to jump right into the conditioning phase, and let your cherries chill!

The Conditioning Phase: Ensuring Perfectly Dried Cherries

After your cherries have completely cooled down, they’re ready for the conditioning phase. But what does that mean? Conditioning facilitates even distribution of residual moisture among the dried cherries, which is crucial for long-term storage.

To condition your cherries, place them in a sealed container and give them a good shake every day for a week. This helps redistribute any leftover moisture and ensures your cherries are perfectly dried. Remember, proper conditioning can make the difference between dried cherries that stay fresh for months and ones that spoil quickly.

Storing Your Oven Dried Cherries

Airtight containers filled with oven dried cherries

Once conditioning is complete, you can finally move on to storing your dried cherries. The key is to use airtight containers, such as glass jars with tight-sealing lids. This will keep your cherries fresh and tasty for 6 months to a year.

But what if you want to keep your cherries fresh for even longer? That’s where the freezer comes in. You can freeze your dried cherries for extended preservation. Just make sure to wrap them in parchment paper before putting them in a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent any holes.

Creative Ways to Enjoy Your Dried Cherries

With a batch of homemade dry cherries at your disposal, the culinary possibilities are limitless! Dried cherries can add a chewy texture and burst of flavor to various baked goods, from Cherry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies to savory breads and scones.

But don’t limit yourself to baked goods. Dried cherries, including sour cherries and tart cherries, also shine in salads, especially when paired with red onion, toasted nuts, goat cheese, or sliced pear as a salad topping. Or, try adding them to savory meat-based dishes like stews for a unique sweet-tart flavor. Incorporating other dried fruit options can also enhance your culinary creations.

Troubleshooting Common Issues When Drying Cherries

Even with the utmost care, you may face some challenges during the cherry drying process. But don’t worry! Most of these issues can be easily addressed.

One common issue is cherries splitting if they get wet, or problems with the natural wax layer on the fruit. To prevent these issues, make sure your cherries are not wet before you start drying, and remove any extra moisture. If your cherries end up drying out too much, you can dunk them in boiling water for about 30 seconds. This cracks the skins and helps retain moisture during the drying process.


Drying cherries at home may seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be. With the right preparation and a little patience, you can enjoy the sweet-tart flavor of cherries all year round. Remember, the key to perfect dried cherries lies in choosing fresh, ripe cherries, pitting them evenly, and drying them at the right temperature.

Whether you’re a fan of baked goods, salads, or savory dishes, dried cherries can add a unique twist to your meals. So, why not give it a try? After all, who wouldn’t want to extend the cherry season all year round?

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I dry cherries in the oven?

Yes, you can dry cherries in the oven at a low temperature (around 140-150 F) for about 10 hours until they feel dry but still slightly pliable.

How do you dry cherries without a dehydrator?

To dry cherries without a dehydrator, simply arrange the pitted cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet and let them dry in the oven for about 6 hours or until they look shriveled, similar to raisins.

How to can cherries in the oven?

After drying the jars in the oven, fill them with cooked cherries, cover with a lid, flip them upside down, and let them seal for 4-5 hours at room temperature before storing.

How do I know when the cherries are fully dried?

You’ll know the cherries are fully dried when they have a shriveled texture like raisins, feel totally dry to the touch, and are somewhat pliable.

Can I freeze dried cherries to keep them fresh for longer?

Yes, you can freeze dried cherries to keep them fresh for longer. Just wrap them in parchment paper and then put them in a vacuum-sealed bag to prevent any holes.

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