Soaking Cherries to Remove Worms | Everything You Need to Know

Cherries are one of the most delicious fruits of summer. Their sweet, juicy flavor makes them perfect for snacking, baking, and more. However, cherries sometimes arrive with an unwelcome guest – worms. Finding worms in your cherries can be unpleasant and concerning. Fortunately, soaking cherries in salt water is an easy and effective method to remove any worms.

In this blog post, we’ll discuss the common worm problems found in cherries, explain how the soaking method works, and provide a step-by-step guide to soaking your own cherries. We’ll also share tips for selecting, storing, and preventing worms in your cherries. Read on to learn the secrets of enjoying worm-free cherries!

Understanding Worms in Cherries

Before we dive into the soaking method, let’s look at why worms can be an issue with cherries in the first place. There are a few common types of cherry worms to be aware of:

  • Codling Moths: These are tiny gray moths that lay eggs inside cherry fruit. Their larvae then burrow and feed inside, causing damage.
  • Cherry Fruit Flies: These small flies lay eggs in ripening cherry fruit, leaving behind maggots inside.
  • Cherry Slugs: The larvae of sawflies that feed on the leaves and fruit of cherries.

No matter the type, worms can make their way into cherries in orchards or during harvest, storage, and transport. If consumed, the worms are unlikely to cause harm but are certainly undesirable. Preventing and removing worms ensures quality cherries.

The Soaking Method: An Overview

Soaking cherries in a salt water solution is a simple and natural way to force any worms or eggs out of the fruit. Here’s an overview of why it works:

  • The salt irritates the worms and eggs, causing them to become active.
  • The worms will detect the change in environment and move out of the cherries seeking food and relief.
  • The salt water creates an inhospitable environment, so worms and eggs exit the fruit.
  • After soaking, you can rinse off and enjoy worm-free cherries!

This cherry soaking method has been used for ages as a folk remedy. Many claim the ratio of 1-3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water does the trick. Let’s look at how to soak cherries step-by-step.

Step-by-Step Guide to Soaking Cherries

Follow these simple steps for soaking cherries in salt water:

1. Mix the Salt Water Solution

Start by mixing up your salt water soak. Combine 1-3 tablespoons of salt per quart of water, depending on how many cherries you plan to soak. Stir well until the salt fully dissolves.

Tip: Use normal table salt or kosher salt. Pickling salt or canning salt also works well.

2. Wash the Cherries

Rinse your fresh cherries under cool running water. This removes any dirt, debris, and pesticides from the surface.

3. Soak the Cherries

Place the washed cherries into a large bowl and cover with the salt water solution. Cherries should soak for 5-15 minutes.

Tip: Use enough salt water to fully submerge the cherries.

4. Drain and Rinse

After soaking, drain the cherries in a colander and rinse well with fresh cool water. This removes excess salt and any worms that emerged.

5. Dry and Store

Spread the cherries out on clean kitchen towels or paper towels. Allow them to fully dry before storing or eating.

Once dry, you can enjoy your fresh cherries or store them in the fridge for later.

Effectiveness of the Soaking Method

Soaking cherries in a simple salt water solution is thought to be 90% effective or more at removing worms and eggs. Here’s why it works so well:

  • The salt irritates the worms while the water draws them out. Together, these create an environment they cannot thrive in.
  • Several studies have found salt solutions to be effective at forcing insect pests out of produce.
  • Anecdotal evidence from generations of cherry growers and consumers support the method.
  • When done properly, the majority of worms can be removed from a batch of cherries.

Of course, no home remedy is 100% foolproof. But soaking is an easy, safe way to rid your cherries of most worms. Thorough washing, inspection, and proper storage also helps.

Limitations and Risks of the Soaking Method

While an effective solution, there are a few limitations and risks to be aware of with the cherry soaking method:

  • A small number of worms may remain. Visually inspect cherries after soaking and remove any stragglers.
  • Soaking too long can damage the cherry skin, allowing mold to develop during storage.
  • Salt can draw moisture from the cherry flesh, causing a rubbery texture if soaked too long.
  • People with salt-restricted diets should limit consumption or rinse cherries very well after soaking.
  • Chemical treatments exist but may leave chemical residues. Soaking provides a natural remedy.

Just be mindful of proper soaking times and rinsing to avoid issues. When done correctly, salt water soaking is a safe worm removal method.

Additional Tips for Worm-Free Cherries

Beyond soaking your cherries, here are some additional tips for keeping your fruit fresh and worm-free:

  • Inspect cherries thoroughly when buying or picking. Look for any signs of holes, webbing, or larvae.
  • Refrigerate cherries as soon as possible after harvest or purchase. The cold prevents worms from hatching.
  • Wash cherries just before use. A quick rinse removes any new pests. Pat dry.
  • Enjoy cherries promptly or preserve them. The longer they sit, the more risk of worms developing.
  • Buy local cherries in season. Shorter transit time means less worm risk. Or grow your own!
  • Freeze cherries within 1-2 days of harvesting to kill any eggs or worms present.

Follow these tips in addition to the soaking method and you’ll keep your cherries fresh and full of flavor.


Finding those unpleasant surprise worms in cherries can really put a damper on summer fruit enjoyment. Fortunately, soaking cherries in salt water offers a simple, natural solution to remove most worms from your fruit.

By understanding common cherry worms, how salt helps draw them out, and the proper soaking technique, you can easily employ this traditional method yourself. While not 100% foolproof, it drastically reduces the presence of worms when done correctly.

Combine cherry soaking with careful washing, inspection, and proper storage and you’ll keep your cherries worm-free. Now get out there and enjoy those sweet, juicy cherries all season long!

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