The Northwest Cherry Season lasts from the first week of June until the end of August. Cherries are one of the freshest produce items available. Ripened on the tree, cherries are generally harvested, packed and on the shelf of your favorite retailer within 2 days. Growing regions scattered throughout Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, and Montana offer small differences in microclimate, which allow cherries throughout the region to ripen at different times through the season. This ensures that all summer long, the Northwest Cherries that you enjoy are never more than a few days from the tree.
Interesting Cherry Facts
- Cherries are related to plums and more distantly to peaches and nectarines.
- Cherry pits have been found in several Stone Age caves in Europe.
- There are more than 1,000 varieties of cherries in the United States, but fewer than 10 are produced commercially.
- Cherries have the shortest period between flower blossom and harvest of any tree fruit (60-75 days).
- Cherries migrated with the colonists from Europe in the 1600’s.
- In 1847, a man named Henderson Lewelling traveled from Iowa to western Oregon by ox cart. He brought with him nursery stock which became the first cherry trees planted in the Northwest.
- Washington State grows more sweet cherries than any other region in the nation.
Health Benefits of Sweet Cherries
Studies show that sweet cherries area a flavorful source of potassium as well as important nutritional properties including:
- Packed with Vitamin C
- Full of antioxidants and anti-inflammatory compounds which slow aging and help protect against disease
- Very low on the glycemic index which means they trigger spikes or crashes in blood sugar or insulin levels
- Great source of nutrition for muscle recovery
These compounds, gained through consuming dark sweet cherries, contribute to a host of beneficial effects on certain diseases and conditions. A few of many are:
- Cardiovascular Disease
- Cognitive Function
How to freeze Northwest Cherries
- Select 3-5 pounds of firm, ripe, Northwest-grown Sweet Cherries.
- Rinse and drain.
- Spread cherries with stems on a baking sheet.
- Place in freezer until firm.
- Pack into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags.
- Remove excess air and cover tightly
- Add frozen cherries to smoothies or juices
- Defrost and put into hot cereal, pies, turnovers, cobblers and more
- Or serve as a sweet, late-night treat!