SOURCE: Northwest Cherries

Northwest Cherries

June 30, 2011 17:00 ET

Better Late Harvest Than Never: Northwest Cherry Season Has Arrived

After Weeks of Extra Hang Time, This Summer's Sweet Cherries Are Ready to Drop Just in Time for National Rainier Cherry Day

YAKIMA, WA--(Marketwire - Jun 30, 2011) - With the latest arrival on record, the coveted Northwest crop of sweet cherries is finally ready for harvest and will now be hitting grocery store shelves. The seven regional varieties, including the golden-blushed Rainier and iconic Bing, are perennial favorites and the true mark of summer's coming. Known for exceptional sweetness and size, this season's crop proves to be the juiciest yet, largely due to the extended winter weather in the Northwest region.

"There are so many elements that contribute to a successful cherry season, from the natural resources we have here in the Northwest to the weather that changes year-to-year, and this year they all aligned to turnout a spectacular crop," said James Michael, Promotions Direction of Northwest Cherries, a growers' organization that represents Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Utah and Montana. "The growers work hard to produce two-thirds of the nation's sweet cherries, and we're excited to supply both quality and quantity this year with crop projections ahead of 2010 by several million boxes."

Now that cherries are ripe for the picking, consumers can look forward to naturally sweeter fruits in deep mahogany and golden amber colors that make for a perfect fresh snack straight out of the bag or a fantastic ingredient in summer dishes and desserts. In case a summer of snacking isn't enough, kick up the celebration with a tribute to the Northwest's signature creation on National Rainier Cherry Day, July 11. Bred at Washington State University, this striking variety, a cross between two red cherries, gets its own day to bask in its beauty. This year, street teams across the country -- including Seattle, New York, Boston, Austin and Atlanta -- will hit the pavement to sing the praises of the Northwest's most cherished cherry. Additionally, iconic restaurants in every state have been selected to create a Northwest Rainier cherry signature dish.

With an average of 65 days from blossom to tree-ripe fruit, this season's cherries avoided the damaging early summer rain due to the delayed bloom from the Northwest's extended cold weather. In addition to preserving the flawless exterior of the cherries, the cooler weather also increased the balanced sweetness inside with a slower ripening process and longer hang time on the tree. Its time on the branch is the only place a cherry builds sugars and the longer it hangs, the naturally sweeter the flesh becomes. That perfect scale of sweet and tartness is the signature Northwest bite that gives the cherries their sought-after and distinctive flavor profile.

The unique microclimates of the Northwest growing region are spread over 400 miles north to south with different peaks of season. With the latitude variations among the five states, all season long the Northwest cherries in store are never more than a few days from the tree. The "peak of season" wave will begin the first week of July and continue to roll out through September.

For more information on Northwest sweet cherries, seasonal recipes and health information, visit www.nwcherries.com, or for how to preserve that summer sweetness as the season wraps, check out www.sweetpreservation.com.

About Northwest Cherries and Washington State Fruit Commission
Washington State Fruit Commission is a grower's organization funded by fruit assessments to increase awareness and consumption of regional stone fruits. The organization is dedicated to the promotion, education, market development, and research of soft fruits from Northwest orchards. It began in 1947 and has since grown to include growers in five states -- Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana. For more information, visit www.nwcherries.com or www.wastatefruit.com.

Editor's Note: High-res images and recipes available upon request.

Contact Information

  • For more information, media only:
    Jamie Hinz
    Duo PR for Northwest Cherries
    206-957-8305
    jamie@duopr.com