I have always wondered if it was possible to dry cherries without a food dehydrator. Now I know. Yes, you can dry fresh cherries in the oven. It takes a few hours, but they shrivel up to look just like raisins. I like to add dried cherries to cookies, granola, oatmeal and cereal. They are so yummy and good for you.
My grocery store was having a super deal on fresh cherries, so I brought home way more than we could eat. I didn’t want them to go to waste, so decided to see if I could dry them.
A downside to using an oven to dry fruit instead of a dehydrator is that the oven method is not as energy-efficient. But, I don’t have a dehydrator so … the oven will have to do for now. If you have a couple of oven shelves and 2 or 3 baking sheets, you can dry quite a big batch of cherries at the same time. I like to line my baking sheets with Silpat Non-Stick Baking Mats for easy cleanup.
How to dry cherries in the oven.
First, you will want to rinse and dry your cherries. Then remove their pits. I don’t have a cherry pitter, so I used a knife to slice the cherries in half and manually remove the pit. If I had a lot of cherries, I would definitely want to invest in a cherry pitter. But my batch was fairly small, so it did not take me too long to remove the pits myself.
Preheat the oven to a low setting. The lowest my oven will go is 170 degrees (F). So that is what I used.
Arrange the pitted cherries in a single layer on a baking sheet. (Line your baking sheets with foil, silpat or parchment paper for easier cleanup).
Allow cherries to dry in the oven for about 6 hours or until they look shriveled, very similar to raisins. Around the 5 hour mark, I did a taste test and could tell they were almost done – but still a little bit chewy, so I left them in another hour. They turned out great!
Tips to keep in mind:
Drying cherries in the oven will take several hours. So you probably don’t want to start a batch late in the afternoon, unless you don’t mind staying up until midnight or later til they get done. You’ll need to keep a closer eye on them towards the end, and you definitely don’t want to forget to turn the oven off.
Try to keep all your cherry pieces cut to a similar size for uniform results.