Do Cherries Go Bad?

Cherries are in season, and you went a bit overeager when you saw that sale on the farmer’s market. You know these sweet and tart fruits go bad quite quickly but aren’t sure exactly how long they last, or what’s the best way of storing them.

Now you’re looking for tips on how to make the most out of the cherries you’ve got. Because obviously, you don’t want to see them go bad.

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

Pile of cherries
(credit: Clem Onojeghuo)

How To Store Cherries

Cherries, like strawberries, are ripe and ready for consumption when you buy them. When you bring them home, you can either keep them on the countertop or in the fridge. The former is okay if you plan on eating them the same day, or the day after. Longer storage calls for refrigerating cherries.

If you’re leaving cherries on the countertop (e.g., to snack on during the day), make sure they don’t sit in sunlight or near any sources of heat.

If, on the other hand, you’re keeping them chilled in the fridge, remember to:

  • 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, make sure to dry them thoroughly to avoid mold growth.
  • Store them away from smelly products. The easiest way to do that is to use the crisper drawer, which is usually free from such food items.

Alternatively, if you need a lot more time, you can always freeze them.

Cherries in a bag
(credit: Neha Deshmukh)

How To Freeze Cherries

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

Below, I’m going to cover the easiest method, that is freezing whole cherries. It takes only a couple of minutes, so you should be able to do it even if it’s late in the evening and you really don’t feel like it. Here’s how it goes:

  1. Prep the cherries. Remove the stems, then wash and dry the fruit thoroughly. Pit the cherries if you like, so you don’t have to do it after thawing.
  2. Flash freeze the fruit. Lay the cherries out in a single layer on a baking sheet, in a way they don’t touch one another. Then put the baking sheet into the freezer for a couple of hours. I usually do it overnight.
  3. Transfer the frozen fruit into an airtight container or freezer bag. Add a label with name and date if you like, and throw it back in the freezer.

When it comes to thawing, the simplest way to go about it is to leave the fruit in the fridge overnight. If you’re short on time, put them in a freezer bag and into lukewarm water. That will speed things up, but the whole process will still take at least 2 hours.

One thing to note is that thawed cherries will have a slightly altered texture. They might not be that delicious to eat on their own, but they should work just fine in jams, jellies, pies, smoothies, and similar dishes.

How Long Do Cherries Last

At room temperature (e.g., on the countertop), cherries will retain quality for maybe two days, but that’s about it.

If you keep them in the fridge, it’s best to use them within five days (USU), but they should last for up to 7, maybe even 10 days. As usual, it depends on the quality of the cherries, how long they were stored before you bought them, and so on. If you pick fresh fruit from a cherry orchard, they’re much likely to last those 10 days than ones you bought in the supermarket on clearance.


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

Cherries1 – 2 days5 – 10 days
Red cherries in a bowl
(credit: Debby Hudson)

How To Tell If Cherries Are Bad?

Before you eat a cherry, make sure that:

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

Other than that, if you feel like something is off when it comes to your cherries, trust your gut and get rid of them.