When I was a little girl, every Valentine’s Day my dad would buy me a box of chocolate covered cherries. One bite, and a soft cherry encased in sweet white filling would come pouring out. You had to plop it in your mouth quickly before making a mess on your shirt. As an adult, I’m enjoying a new version, employing my dehydrator and fresh cherries.
One lucky day, I got a message from Sweet Preservation, a website run by the Washington State Fruit Commission. They offered me a chance to preserve with their cherries in exchange for devising a clever way to use their fruit. Because dehydrating isn’t popular like canning, I opted for a dehydration experiment, and the results are sweet.
If you are preserving with cherries, you need a cherry pitter. Mine does four at a time. First, wash and stem the cherries.
Pit the cherries, and cut in half. These are some pretty great cherries! I had my children pit them for me.
Spread cherries on a dehydrating tray, and dehydrate at 135 until soft, but not moist. These should be pliable. Dehydrating time will depend on size of your cherries. Mine took about 8 hours.
Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips on defrost in your microwave and stir every 30 seconds until smooth. Chocolate can be very temperamental, so pay close attention to this step.
Make a cluster of the dehydrated cherries, and spoon chocolate over the top. You can also toss the dehydrated cherries in the bowl of chocolate, and spread on parchment. After chocolate hardens, just break apart.
These chocolate covered cherries are something special, and would make a great teacher gift. Even without the chocolate, the cherries are soft, slightly chewy, and sweet. I had some high quality cherries to work with from the Washington State Fruit Commission, which made the end product superior. If you want tips on buying fruit, Sweet Preservation has a page with tips.
Not only does Sweet Preservation have great tips and recipes, they also have free downloadable canning labels. How fun! My favorite is the retro label. On this website, you can also find preservation instructions and tips.
Besides eating them outright, other ways to use dehydrated cherries include using them in trail mix, breads, and granola bars. Out of all the fruit I’ve dehydrated, cherries are now my favorite. Chocolate covered or not, cherries come out on top.