Frozen Sour Cherries.

Asked October 17, 2019, 2:10 PM EDT

Are my sour cherries properly preserved and are they safe to eat? I froze 5 cups of pitted sour cherries in a dry sugar pack, in ziploc freezer bags. 1 cup plus a little more of sugar to 5 cups of cherries, I think. ( I may have used the regular 4 cups cherries to 1 cup sugar recipe also, I dont quite remember. Long story...) The problem is, the cherries do not seem to be frozen. The cherries and sugar have made some type of sticky syrup that has leaked all over my freezer. The cherries are firm but I am able to squish them flat with a little bit of pressure. The sticky syrup that has formed is not solid in the bag. My freezer is working properly, freezing sweet corn, broccoli, ice cubes, chicken breasts, etc, without any issues. Are these cherries safe to eat and properly processed? I can not find any information on the internet of the end result of properly preserved sour cherries. Does a dry sugar pack of cherries and sugar only, typically result in a soft, moderately squishy freezer bag of cherries in a syrupy mixture? I do not know if these are safe to eat or if they should be tossed out. If they need to be tossed out, what went wrong? Please help! Thank you.

Shiawassee County Michigan

1 Response

Hi,
As far as food safety concerns go with fruit because of its acidity, fruit is generally only susceptible to yeast and mold. So if there is no fur-they are not moldy. If they do not smell like cherry wine--they do not have yeast spoilage. If the cherries do not have either of these, they are safe.

Did the Ziploc bags break? Were they not tightly sealed? They should not have leaked if you used freezer strength zipper bags and sealed them properly.

What temperature do you have your freezer set at? It should be set at 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below to have proper freezing take place. You may want to purchase an appliance thermometer to determine what temperature your freezer is at.
Each freezer and refrigerator has an air flow pattern. If you block that air flow pattern, where ever the blockage is anything below the blockage will be softer and warmer than the food above the blockage. If the cherries were place close to the door of the freezer, they may not have frozen properly.

The National Center for Home Food Preservation recommends the following for a dry sugar pack: 3/4 cup sugar to 1 quart (1 1/3 pounds) of sour cherries. https://nchfp.uga.edu/how/freeze/cherry_sour.html.
When you made your dry sugar pack were you cherries dry? or wet?

Sometimes when fruit takes a very long time to freeze, it tends to have a softer freeze. The National Center for Home Food Preservation:

Why are frozen fruits sometimes soft when thawed?
If fruits are frozen slowly large ice crystals form and rupture cell walls causing a soft mushy product. For best results, quick freeze at -10°F and serve just as ice crystals are disappearing.

When I have used the dry sugar pack my fruit has been frozen solid and hard. Are you sure the cherries are in a location where they are being kept at a temperature below 0 degrees? Normally, I have found that when a food product is soft and squishy it is not being kept cold enough (below 0.)
You do not have a safety issue. You will have a quality issue when you decide to use the cherries.
Sincerely,