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A related question was asked about fruit in general but it didn't answer a particular question I have.

I have 6 pounds of fresh cherries ready for a holiday beer. I'm planning on cleaning/sanitizing the cherries and then freezing them to break down the cell walls.

Should I also pit and puree the cherries, or freeze them whole?

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If you're going to puree them does the freezing step really become necessary? Maybe this could be a stand alone question. –  brewchez Aug 25 '10 at 16:03
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2 Answers 2

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I know most cherry wine recipes recommend pitting the cherries, it probably couldn't hurt to pit your cherries, but since you probably won't be pressing the fruit it's probably not as important as it is for wine. (When the pits get pressed they can contribute excess amounts of tannin.)

I wouldn't bother pureeing, freezing will break down the cell walls just fine.

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I agree - I wouldn't bother pitting because you're not going to be pressing, and thus won't be breaking the seeds open. When making red wine, the berries are fermented with the seeds still in them. When you press, you're careful not to apply too much pressure so as not to break the seeds open. The astringent tannins are released when the seeds are broken. If you do want to pit, though, my wife has a great method she uses for making pies - use a pastry tip. Makes quick work of it, but you probably still want to wear gloves due to the staining. –  JackSmith Aug 24 '10 at 15:28
    
That's what I'll try. Thanks! –  sgwill Aug 24 '10 at 18:26
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I recently made a Belgian strong ale with 7#s of cherries in it. I pitted all of them, and then froze them. After frozen I let them thaw. I sanitized my blender and blended them up a bit, and poured them into my secondary and racked the beer over it. At no point did I boil or use any type of sanitization process on the cherries themselves.

I'm not sure if the blending was necessary, but it was very easy to clean out the carboy after bottling. I didn't have to worry about a bunch of cherries getting stuck in the neck.

If you want to avoid haze make sure you add Pectin Enzyme. Ideally you are supposed to add the enzyme to the blended cherries before adding to your beer, but I added later and it still seemed to work.

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In addition to aiding in clarification, the pectic enzyme will also break down the fruit pectin, allowing for more flavor extraction. It will help break down even unblended cherries. In my comment on Mattress's answer, I said that I wouldn't bother pitting, but I should mention that the fruit should still be crushed (each cherry split open). The skins need to be broken to allow the pectic enzyme, yeast, and alcohol to get into the fruit and do their things (breaking down the pectin, fermenting the fruit sugars, and macerating, respectively). –  JackSmith Aug 24 '10 at 17:11
    
FWIW, I have always added my pectic enzyme to the secondary not the fruit prep directly, and it seems to work fine at helping with clarification. –  brewchez Aug 25 '10 at 16:02
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