Do Amarena cherries in syrup need to be refrigerated?

Amarena cherries are a variety of sour cherry that are grown in Italy and preserved in syrup. They are a popular ingredient in desserts, cocktails, and more. When buying Amarena cherries, you’ll often find them packed in glass jars or cans and covered in a sugary syrup. But once you open the jar, do they need to be refrigerated or can they be stored at room temperature? Here’s a detailed look at whether or not you need to refrigerate your Amarena cherries after opening.

Quick Answer

Yes, once opened, Amarena cherries in syrup should be stored in the refrigerator. The syrup helps preserve the cherries by creating an environment inhospitable to microbes. However, this protection diminishes over time after opening. Refrigeration is necessary to maintain quality and prevent mold growth.

Looking at the Ingredients

To understand why refrigeration is recommended, it’s helpful to look at what’s in the jar of Amarena cherries:

  • Cherries – Fresh cherries are highly perishable and prone to mold growth at room temperature.
  • Sugar syrup – The high sugar content helps prevent microbial growth by binding water. But mold can still grow over time.
  • Preservatives – Some brands may include preservatives like potassium sorbate to extend shelf life.

The cherries and syrup create an environment where mold and bacteria can’t thrive initially. But once opened and exposed to oxygen, the product is no longer in a hermetically sealed, shelf-stable condition. Refrigeration is necessary to keep it safe for consumption.

Refrigeration Slows Microbial Growth

Refrigerating Amarena cherries after opening is important for slowing the growth of mold, yeasts, and bacteria. The cold temperature of the refrigerator (<40°F) causes the microbes to enter a dormant or slow-growth phase.

If left unrefrigerated, the warmer room temperature promotes rapid bacterial multiplication. The oxygen introduced into the jar also enables aerobic microbes to thrive. Refrigeration keeps microbial growth in check to extend the shelf life of the opened cherries.

Slows Mold Growth

Refrigeration is especially important for controlling mold growth. Molds are fungi that spread through microscopic spores in the air. When these spores land on the cherries, they germinate and grow fuzzy colonies when conditions are right.

At room temperature, an opened jar of Amarena cherries can quickly become a hotbed for mold. But refrigeration helps prevent most molds from actively growing and spreading.

Inhibits Yeast

Yeasts are another microbe that can grow in the sugary syrup of preserved cherries. The yeast feeds off the sugars and can cause fermentation. Refrigeration slows the activity of yeasts to prevent this fermentation.

Slows Bacteria

Bacteria are also inhibited from rapid growth by refrigeration. Pathogens like Listeria, Salmonella, and E. coli are slowed or inactivated at colder fridge temperatures.

Maintains Texture & Flavor

Another reason to refrigerate opened Amarena cherries is to maintain ideal texture and flavor. Continued exposure to room temperature can cause the cherries and syrup to degrade.

Prevents Softening of Cherries

The flesh of the cherries will start to soften and lose firmness when left unrefrigerated. Enzyme activity speeds up at higher temperatures, causing a breakdown of the cherry plant cells.

Retains Sweetness of Syrup

The syrup can also change at room temperature, becoming less sweet over time. The sugar content decreases as the sugars are metabolized by any yeasts and molds present.

Prevents Off-Flavors

Off-flavors can develop if molds or bacteria grow and start digesting components of the cherries and syrup. Refrigeration prevents microbial growth that could lead to unpleasant tastes.

Follows Manufacturer Recommendations

You should also refrigerate Amarena cherries after opening because it’s advised on the packaging. All major brands of Amarena cherries state “Refrigerate after opening” or “Keep refrigerated” on the label.

This instruction is there for good reason. The companies have extensively tested their products to determine the optimal storage conditions. Refrigeration is necessary to achieve the advertised shelf life and maintain the expected quality.

Provides Longer Shelf Life

Refrigerating opened Amarena cherries extends their usable shelf life compared to leaving them out at room temperature. The cool environment of the refrigerator slows the natural degradation process.

Lasts Weeks When Refrigerated

When stored in the refrigerator after opening, Amarena cherries typically last for 3-6 weeks before going bad.

Only Lasts Days at Room Temperature

At room temperature, the opened cherries may only last a few days before substantial deterioration occurs. Mold growth in particular accelerates.

So if you want your Amarena cherries to last for more than a couple days after opening, be sure to refrigerate them.

Indications They Need Refrigeration

Here are some signs that your opened jar of Amarena cherries needs refrigeration:

  • Formation of mold on cherries or in syrup
  • Fermented smell
  • Fizzy syrup
  • Soft or mealy cherry texture
  • Loss of sweetness in syrup
  • Off flavors

If you notice any of these issues, refrigeration is needed to prevent further quality loss. For best results, refrigerate after opening even if the product looks fine.

How to Properly Refrigerate

To properly refrigerate your Amarena cherries after opening, follow these guidelines:

  • Seal: Put the lid back on tightly after each use to prevent drying out.
  • Fridge Door: Store in the main compartment of the fridge, not on the door where temperature fluctuations are greater.
  • Use Quickly: Use within 3-6 weeks for best quality and safety.
  • No Freezer: Do not freeze opened jar, as this will degrade texture.

Storing properly in the fridge will help retain the quality and extend the shelf life of your Amarena cherries in syrup after opening.


In some cases, Amarena cherries may not strictly need refrigeration after opening. These include:

Alcoholic Cocktails or Recipes

If the cherries are being used to make alcoholic cocktails or recipes, the alcohol may inhibit microbial growth sufficiently. Refrigeration may not be critical in this case.

Canned Cherries with Higher Acid

Some brands of canned Amarena cherries are packed in a more acidic syrup. The lower pH provides greater mold inhibition. Refrigeration may be less important if using up quickly.

Cherries for Immediate Use

If the cherries will be consumed or cooked within a day or two of opening, refrigeration may not be needed during that short time span.

Safety Tips

When storing Amarena cherries after opening, keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Discard if any mold, yeast growth, or foul smell develops.
  • Do not eat cherries with white film – this indicates yeast growth.
  • Avoid letting children and elderly eat unrefrigerated cherries due to higher risk.
  • Refrigerate after opening even if using up quickly for maximum safety.


Here’s a quick summary of whether Amarena cherries need refrigeration after opening:

  • Yes, opened Amarena cherries should be refrigerated to inhibit microbial growth and maintain quality.
  • Refrigeration slows the growth of mold, yeast, and bacteria that can degrade product.
  • It maintains texture, flavor, and sweetness that are lost at room temperature.
  • Refrigeration aligns with manufacturer instructions for shelf life and safety.
  • Aim to refrigerate opened jar within a couple hours and use within 3-6 weeks.

Storing Amarena cherries properly in the fridge after opening allows you to keep enjoying their unique flavor for weeks to come.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do Amarena cherries come packed in syrup?

Amarena cherries are packed in a sugar syrup to preserve them and extend shelf life. The high sugar concentration creates an environment where molds, yeasts, and bacteria can’t readily grow. The syrup also maintains texture and flavor.

Do Amarena cherries need to be refrigerated before opening?

Amarena cherries in unopened jars or cans do not need refrigeration. They are shelf-stable at room temperature until opened. Refrigeration is only needed once exposed to oxygen after opening.

How long do opened Amarena cherries last in the fridge?

Properly stored in the refrigerator, opened Amarena cherries typically last 3-6 weeks before quality degradation occurs. Mold growth, fermentation, and texture changes become likely after this time.

Can you freeze opened Amarena cherries?

It is not recommended to freeze Amarena cherries after opening. The frozen syrup causes texture changes and could damage the cherries. Refrigeration is the best storage method.

What’s the difference between Amarena cherries and maraschino cherries?

Amarena cherries are a specific Italian variety preserved in sugar syrup and dyed red. Maraschino cherries refer to any sweet or sour cherry variety preserved in a sugar brine solution.


Amarena cherries are a delicious and versatile ingredient, but require proper storage after opening to maintain quality and safety. Exposing the opened cherries to room temperature allows for rapid microbial growth and texture changes. Refrigeration is essential, aligning with manufacturer guidelines. Following the recommendations for refrigerated storage will allow you to keep enjoying Amarena cherries for weeks after opening.

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