Frozen Sweet Cherries

Published July 1, 2010. From Cook's Illustrated.

Cherry season is a mere blip on the summer-produce radar, so a good brand of frozen cherries can come in handy.

Overview:

Cherry season is a mere blip on the summer-produce radar, so a good brand of frozen cherries can come in handy. In the three brands we tasted (first plain, then baked in pie), appearance was a good predictor of quality: Darker color corresponds to greater ripeness in many sweet cherry varietals (yellow-red Rainier cherries are an exception), and the best frozen cherries were uniformly maroon and tangy-sweet, while lighter-colored fruits tasted washed out and harshly sour.

Besides differences in appearance, there was also a discrepancy in overall quality: Two of the brands contained lots of blemished, mushy fruit; in one bag we even found pits and stems. Though we chose only brands that had been individually quick frozen, or IQF—a system of rapidly freezing individual items at extremely low temperatures to help prevent the formation of water crystals that can rupture cells and compromise texture—the squishiness of some cherries could have been caused by improper handling. If fruit partially thaws and refreezes, water crystals can… read more

Cherry season is a mere blip on the summer-produce radar, so a good brand of frozen cherries can come in handy. In the three brands we tasted (first plain, then baked in pie), appearance was a good predictor of quality: Darker color corresponds to greater ripeness in many sweet cherry varietals (yellow-red Rainier cherries are an exception), and the best frozen cherries were uniformly maroon and tangy-sweet, while lighter-colored fruits tasted washed out and harshly sour.

Besides differences in appearance, there was also a discrepancy in overall quality: Two of the brands contained lots of blemished, mushy fruit; in one bag we even found pits and stems. Though we chose only brands that had been individually quick frozen, or IQF—a system of rapidly freezing individual items at extremely low temperatures to help prevent the formation of water crystals that can rupture cells and compromise texture—the squishiness of some cherries could have been caused by improper handling. If fruit partially thaws and refreezes, water crystals can still form and severely damage texture.

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  • Product Tested

    Price*

  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Recommended - Winner

    Cascadian Farms Premium Organic Sweet Cherries

    These large, glossy, dark cherries were consistent in both size and appearance—and they tasted as good as they looked, with tasters describing them as “sweet, ripe, and fruity.” Baked in pie, these cherries maintained their texture better than other brands and yielded “pleasantly sweet” cherry flavor.

    $3.50 for 10 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Dole Dark Sweet Cherries

    Though labeled “dark sweet,” these cherries were bright red, small, and less ripe-looking and sweet than we’d prefer. Above all, the inconsistency in quality from batch to batch was this brand’s fatal flaw.

    $4.49 for 12 ounces

  • Not Recommended

    Tree of Life Organic Dark Sweet Cherries

    Each bag of these cherries contained a selection of random colors and sizes—even the occasional pit. Besides harsh sour notes identified by some tasters, the fruit generally lacked deep cherry flavor, and its mushiness only got worse in a pie.

    $4.99 for 10 ounces

*PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE
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