I love cherries, so I definitely want them in my prepper pantry. Dehydrating cherries is a great way to preserve them, but it’s a pain in the neck to pit the cherries, even if you have a cherry pitter. That’s where dehydrating frozen cherries comes in!
You can pick up frozen cherries any time of year, so this is a great dehydrating project to do whenever it’s convenient, rather than worrying about buying cherries when they’re in season.
The Process of Dehydrating Frozen Cherries
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Now let’s get into the step-by-step process of dehydrating frozen cherries.
Preparing Frozen Cherries for Dehydrating
As I mentioned above, one of the things I love about dehydrating frozen cherries is that you don’t have to pit them. But there is a bit of work to do before tossing those frozen cherries into your dehydrator.
Here are the basic steps to take to prepare frozen cherries for dehydrating.
Break Apart Frozen Clumps of Cherries
When you purchase frozen fruit, there are times when some of the fruit has slightly defrosted and then refroze. When that happens, you’ll end up with clumps of frozen fruit.
In this case, none of the frozen cherries I purchased were clumped together, but I wanted to touch on this point just in case you’re not as lucky.
If you’ve found that the frozen cherries you’ve purchased have frozen together, simply break them apart before moving onto the next step. I’m often able to break them apart using my hands. If they’re really stuck, I just whack them on a cutting board or counter. If even that doesn’t work, popping them into the microwave for around 30 seconds makes it possible to separate them.
Cut the Frozen Cherries into Smaller Pieces
Next, cut the cherries into smaller pieces. How much you need to cut them depends on the size of the individual cherries.
Even in the same bag of frozen cherries, you’ll see a big difference in the size of the cherries. In the image above you can see how huge the cherry to the left is compared to the cherry on the right.
I cut the cherry on the left into four pieces, and the cherry on the right into two pieces.
The bottom line is that the bigger the pieces, the longer they’ll take to dehydrate.
Note that if you attempt to dehydrate whole frozen cherries, they may never dehydrate completely. The reason is because fruit that is too large ends up drying completely on the outside long before the fruit dries on the inside.
This problem is known as case hardening. It’s a real problem because when case hardening occurs, the hard outside keeps the inside from drying completely, no matter how long you run the dehydrator. You don’t want that to happen, because the fruit will eventually mold due to moisture on the inside.
The bottom line is to be sure to cut the frozen cherries before placing them on dehydrator trays.
Place Frozen Cherries on Dehydrator Trays
Next, place the cut, frozen cherries on your dehydrator trays. You can see in the image above that I have plenty of space between the cherry pieces. You don’t need to leave as much space as I did. However, at the very least, avoid overlapping any of the frozen cherries.
You can even get away with the cherries touching, because they’ll shrink up as they dehydrate. But the space between the cherries improves airflow, which helps the cherries dehydrate faster.
Dehydrate at 145 Degrees Fahrenheit for 1 Hour
Next, when dehydrating any frozen fruit, including cherries, start by setting the temperature on your dehydrator to 145 degrees Fahrenheit, for one hour.
It’s very important to limit the time you run your dehydrator at 145 degrees, because of the case hardening issue I mentioned earlier. I have come across others who run their dehydrator at 145 degrees for two hours, but I’m more comfortable with doing so for only an hour.
Pro tip: The dehydrator that I’m using in this article is the Cosori Premium Stainless Steel Dehydrator, which you can pick up here, on Amazon. One thing that I love about it is that it has a timer. That makes it easy to make sure I don’t accidentally keep the dehydrator running at too high of a temperature for too long. If you’re using a dehydrator without a timer, such as my Nesco dehydrator (Amazon), be sure to set a timer on your phone to remind you to turn down the temperature after an hour.
The Frozen Cherries After 1 Hour in the Dehydrator
The purpose of dehydrating the frozen cherries at 145 degrees for the first hour is just to thaw them. In the image above, you can see what the cherries looked like after being in the dehydrator at 145 degrees for an hour. They had thawed and had just barely started to change shape a little.
Reduce the Dehydrator Temperature to 125 Degrees Fahrenheit
After the first hour, reduce the temperature on your dehydrator from 145 degrees Fahrenheit to 125 degrees Fahrenheit. This is the temperature you’ll use for the remainder of the time
Frozen Cherries After Four Hours in the Dehydrator
After three additional hours, (one hour at 145 degrees Fahrenheit and then three at 125 degrees Fahrenheit) here’s how the frozen cherries looked.
They are slightly dryer than they were after the first hour, but still extremely moist. They are very, very plump. Considering how little they changed, it’s pretty clear frozen cherries will take a long time to dehydrate.
Frozen Cherries After 7 Total Hours in the Dehydrator
I put the cherries back into the dehydrator for an additional three hours, for a total of seven hours.
At this point I was finally seeing significant changes in the appearance of the cherries. However, they are still VERY plump, so no doubt still have a significant amount of time needed to dehydrate completely.
After 11 Total Hours in the Dehydrator
Since these were taking so long to dehydrate, I had a feeling there was no way the cherries would be completely dehydrated in three additional hours, so this time I set the timer for four hours.
After 11 total hours in the dehydrator, I could see progress in the dryness of the cherries, but NONE of the cherry pieces were anywhere close to being completely dehydrated.
At this point, while the cherries look wrinkled on the outside, they were still very moist and spongy. The only way I know to describe it is that they feel almost like a water balloon that has a semi-solid outer surface but is squishy. Another way to describe it is feeling like a water blister that has a weird combination of solid and watery feel to it.
Running the Dehydrator Overnight
By this point, it was time to go to bed. The good news is that it’s totally safe to run a dehydrator overnight, so I kept it going while I slept.
By the time I got up the next morning, the frozen cherries had been in the dehydrator for 20 hours total. And they were still moist. The bottom line is that it takes a long time for cherries to dehydrate!
24 Hours to Dehydrate Frozen Cherries
It ended up taking 24 hours for the frozen cherries to dehydrate completely. One thing to be aware of is that due to the high sugar content, like many types of fruit, the cherries never got crispy. They were dry, but still flexible. The appearance and feel of the dehydrated cherries was similar to prunes.
Dehydrating Frozen Cherries is Messy
Another thing to keep in mind about dehydrating frozen cherries is that they are messy. Thankfully, I anticipated this, and put a solid fruit leather tray at the bottom of my dehydrator. In the photo above, you can see the dried cherry juice that had dripped onto the tray.
Thankfully, this was super easy to clean. I just put it, along with the dehydrator trays, and mesh liners, into a sink full of hot soapy water, and the sticky residue wiped right off. This was certainly easier than wiping out the bottom of the dehydrator.
Additional Tips for Dehydrating Frozen Cherries
Dehydrating frozen cherries was obviously a long process. To speed up process, I recommend thawing the cherries first. You can do this by letting them thaw overnight in the fridge. Alternatively, thaw them in the microwave in two-minute intervals until they are completely thawed. Be sure to drain any juice before putting the thawed cherries on your dehydrator trays.
Use Mesh Dehydrator Tray Liners
I also recommend using mesh dehydrator tray liners when dehydrating any type of fruit, rather than putting the fruit directly on the dehydrator trays. Since fruit has so much sugar, it tends to stick on the trays, and it’s easier to peel them off of the mesh liners. You can pick up mesh dehydrator tray liners on Amazon. Just be sure to buy ones that work with your specific dehydrator.
Here are the ones I use for my Cosori and the ones I use for my Nesco. If you can’t find mesh liners for your dehydrator, you can pick up off brand silicone dehydrator sheets. All of these options are available on Amazon.
Here are a few of my favorite dehydrating tools and resources.
- Cosori Dehydrator – this is the dehydrator I used in this article. Get it here, on Amazon.
- I also use and love my Nesco Dehydrator. You can get it on Amazon, or Pleasant Hill Grain.
- The Ultimate Dehydrator Cookbook by Tammy Gangloff – available here on Amazon. If you only buy one dehydrator book, this is the one I recommend.
If you enjoyed this article, you’ll also enjoy these related articles.
- How to Dehydrate Frozen Pineapple
- Dehydrating Frozen Peaches
- How to Dehydrate Frozen Strawberries
- Dehydrating Frozen Mangoes
While the process is basically the same for each of them, it’s always interesting to see how long the different types of frozen fruit take to dehydrate.