Frozen Sweet Cherries
How we tested
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.