Did you know cherry trees can start blooming in Washington state as soon as early March? While the bees are buzzing away and pollinating the new cherry blooms, Stemilt is buzzing away too and preparing for the most exciting time of the year… cherry season! Something about cherry season in Washington state makes us all so eager to get our hands on the exclusive, delicious, and juicy summer stone fruit. Luckily, Stemilt has a longer cherry season than anywhere else: starting in California in early May, transitioning to Washington in June, and lasting all the way until early September! That means there will be plenty of time to enjoy all your favorite dark-sweet, and Rainier cherries.
When are cherries in season in Washington?
Late May – Mid-June: The first variety to kick off the Stemilt cherry season are California 5 River Islands™ cherries. Grown in California’s Delta region, the orchards sit on nearly 60 islands connected by over 700 waterways, forming one of the most unique cherry growing locals in the country.
May – August: Classic dark-sweet cherries remain available for the majority of the cherry season with organics being available from June through July.
Mid-June – late-July: Organic Rainier cherries and the sweetest cherry you’ll ever eat®, Skylar Rae® brand cherries, are both available from mid-June to late-July.
Early July – August: Kyle’s Pick® is the perfect mixed bag of the biggest and best dark-sweet cherries available during the cherry season! We reserve the juiciest and sweetest Bing, Sweetheart, Skeena, and Staccato® cherries for the ultimate flavor package of high-quality cherries.
Mid-August – Season’s end: We’ve saved the best for last… Our highest altitude grown variety, A Half Mile Closer to the Moon® cherries are full of explosive sugar flavors and extreme juiciness! This cherry’s unique growing conditions and out-of-this-world flavor is what makes A Half Mile Closer to the Moon® cherries World Famous.
World Famous Cherry Harvest
One thing that makes Harvesting Stemilt Cherries unique is the time of day we choose to start picking. An early morning harvest is an essential step in maximizing firmness and quality. As the day progresses and it gradually gets warmer, the cherry’s skin becomes soft to the touch, making them more susceptible to bruising or breaking when harvesting. Our field staff is out in the orchards before the sun even rises to pick the cherries when they are cool. Cherries are placed into a picking bag then moved to a larger bin that sits in the shade out of the sun and is sometimes covered with a shade cloth. This technique helps keep the cherries in optimum qualities for firmness, sugars, and aromatics so they arrive to your local grocery stores looking bright, shiny, and taste delicious!
Selecting Cherries in Store
When cherries arrive to stores, it’s helpful to know what to look for when picking out that first perfect bag of the cherry season. Here are 5 tips on How to Select and Store Cherries. First, you’re going to want to choose the darkest colored cherries for their variety. Darker colors and bright green stems mean more flavor and freshness. Next, find the bag with the biggest cherries. They’re going to be firmer and tastier! After you’ve got your perfect bag of cherries in your shopping bag, be sure to store them in a cool place to keep them fresh. Lastly, decide whether you’re going to eat your cherries now, or freeze them for later. Check out our previous posts on How to Freeze Cherries for more instruction on how to save cherries for later.
Once you’re sitting down with your first bowl of delicious cherries, you might not realize it, but the cherries you’re about to eat are packed full of nutritional benefits. Cherries are actually one of the top 20 foods with the most antioxidants containing about 4,873 antioxidants. Eating cherries can also protect your heart health because they contain a pigment called Anthocyanins that is found in plants. This pigment combats unstable molecules and serious conditions like cardiovascular disease. On another note, cherries are also known for being one of the few natural sources of melatonin and can help you fall asleep if you eat a handful a half hour before bed.
If you’re looking forward to turning your cherries into delicious baked goods or perhaps a refreshing drink, here’s 5 Ways to Enjoy Cherries. I especially can’t wait to be sitting by the pool again with some Cherry Limeade! Personally, nothing sounds better than a 90-degree summer day, a comfy lawn chair, sunglasses, and a cool drink to sip on in the sun. If you are looking for an extra special treat try our Easy Cherry Lime Popsicles. These popsicles are incredibly easy to make (because summertime is best spent doing easy and fun things) and hardly contain any calories to worry about!
Now that you’re a cherry expert, all you need are the cherries! Let us know in the comments below how you’re going to spend your time enjoying Washington cherry season and if you learned anything new about cherries.