With the start of summer upon us, the Pacific Northwest states are beginning to fill…
With the start of summer upon us, the Pacific Northwest states are beginning to fill produce sections across the U.S. with one of the last truly seasonal fruits: delicious sweet cherries. The Northwest Cherry Growers is sharing some tips for making the most of cherry season.
Mother Nature has made the season extra challenging for the more than 2,100 growers across Washington, Oregon, Montana, Utah and Idaho, who supply 80 percent of the nation’s sweet cherries.
Early spring frosts and late spring rains together reduced and delayed the total crop, but that’s only made the remaining fruit that much bigger and sweeter.
“For many, summer and sweet cherries go hand in hand,” said James Michael with the Northwest Cherry Growers, a grower-funded organization that researches and promotes their cherries. “They seem to bring up a lot of fond memories of baking or canning, or just enjoying a bowlful on a hot summer day in the backyard.”
While Northwest cherries are a seasonal fruit, you can enjoy them year-round. Here’s how:
Enjoy cherries now:
Fresh is best: Enjoy while on-the-go or at home. Sweet cherries are an easy and portable fruit, making them the perfect refresher on a hike, in picnic or barbeque dish, topping on a cool treat or road trip snack.
Bake to impress: Pies, bars, crumbles and cobblers – the options are endless and always delicious.
Northwest-grown cherries make baked desserts oh so sweet, and their naturally high sugar content makes it easy for bakers to cut down on added sugar. Northwest Cherry Growers has some recipes for inspiration here.
Cook and create: Enhance everyday dishes with a sweet cherry sauce, or use cherries to turn light appetizers, fresh salads or heartier dishes into a summertime delight.
Enjoy cherries later:
Freeze for the future: Looking to keep sweet cherries around longer than summertime? Freezing is quick and easy, so you can enjoy the taste of summer all year long. Here are some tips on how to freeze Northwest-grown sweet cherries.
Sweet preservation: Another way to enjoy sweet cherries past their season is preserving them. Grab those empty mason jars and some cherries to can and preserve for use later in the year. Find canning instructions here.
Dry for later: A great addition to trail mix, salads, baking or by the handful are dried sweet cherries. Drying cherries is a simple solution to keep them around throughout the year. See how the Northwest Cherry Growers do so in only a few steps here.
The Northwest season of sweet cherries lasts until August, so now is the time to stock up.