1 December 2023

Cherries are in season and you got a little excited when you saw that sale at the farmer’s market. You know these sweet and sour fruits go bad pretty quickly, but you’re not sure how long they keep or how best to store them.

Now look for advice on how to make the most of the cherries you have. Because you obviously don’t want them to go bad.

That is where this article comes in. In it, we talk about storage, shelf life and spoilage of cherries. I also share a couple of tips on ways you can extend its lifespan.

How to store cherries

Cherries, like strawberries, are ripe and ready to eat when you buy them. When you bring them home, you can store them on the counter or in the fridge. The former is fine if you plan to eat them the same day or the next day. Longer storage requires refrigeration of cherries.

If you leave cherries on the counter (for example, to snack on during the day), be sure to do not sit in direct sunlight or near sources of heat.

If, on the other hand, you keep them cold in the fridge, remember:

  • Leave the stems on. Remove them only before using or eating the fruit.
  • Avoid washing. Keeping the cherries unwashed is usually the way to go. If you want or need to wash them before refrigeration, be sure to dry them well to prevent mold growth.
  • Store them away from smelly products. The easiest way to do this is to use the crisper drawer, which usually does not contain such foods.

Alternatively, if you need much longer, you can always freeze them.

How to freeze cherries

There are several ways to freeze cherries. Several of them, like the sugar packet or the syrup packet, require a bit more hands-on time. If you want to read more about these, visit the Michigan State University (MSU) site for more details.

  1. Prepare the cherries. Remove the stems, then wash and dry the fruit well. Remove the seeds from the cherries if you like, so you don’t have to after thawing them.
  2. Quick freeze fruit. Arrange the cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet so they are not touching each other. Then put the baking sheet in the freezer for a couple of hours. I usually do it overnight. For more detailed instructions, check out our guide to instant freezing.
  3. Transfer frozen fruit to an airtight container or freezer bag. Add a name and date label if you like, and toss it in the freezer.

When defrosting, the easiest way to do it is to leave the fruit in the fridge overnight. If you’re short on time, put them in a freezer bag and warm water. That will speed things up, but the whole process will take at least 2 hours.

One thing to keep in mind is that thawed cherries will have a slightly altered texture. They may not be as delicious eaten on their own, but they should work well in Swarms, jellies, cakes, shakes, and similar dishes.

How long do cherries last?

At room temperature (eg, on the countertop), the cherries will retain their quality for about two days.but that’s all.

If you store them in the fridge, they’re best used within five days (USU), but they should last up to 7, maybe even 10 days. As usual, it depends on the quality of the cherries, how long they were stored before buying, etc. If you pick fresh fruit from a cherry orchard, they’re more likely to last those 10 days than the ones you bought at the grocery store on clearance.


If you need to store cherries longer, you can freeze them or make jam or jelly. Visit the MSU site for some recipes for jam (MSU).

Worktop Fridge
cherries 12 days 5 – 10 days

How to know if cherries are bad?

Before eating a cherry, make sure that:

  • There is no mold or black spots. Cherries usually go bad on the stem, so that’s the first place to check.
  • They are quite firm to the touch. Some cherry varieties are softer than others, so it helps to know what you’re up against. Generally, if the sample is soft or wrinkled, it’s time to go.
  • There are no worms inside the fruit. Every time you buy cherries, open a few and check for white maggots inside. If there are any, it’s probably best to open each fruit before eating it. Unless, of course, you like to eat some extra protein with your cherries.

Other than that, If you feel like something is wrong where your cherries are concerned, trust your gut and get rid of them..


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