Over the last few days, I’ve been asked this at least a dozen times. This question is only a segue to what they really want to tell me… that the Brooks cherry is their favorite. It’s said with the implication that this should be shocking to me because they assume that my favorite cherry is and should be the Bing. But, I am on to them and I always see a slight look of excitement (and sometimes disappointment) when I tell them that my favorite cherry is the Brooks. We aren’t just saying this because we’re desperate for summer fruit; the Brooks have earned their place next to the highly revered Bing.
Developed in 1984 by Paul Hansche and is the jewel in the crown of the UC Davis plant breeding program. The development of the Brooks had a major impact on cherry production in California. It‘s ready a week before the Bing and produces less double fruit when grown in the southern San Joaquin Valley. This allowed commercial cherry production to move to the warmer areas of the valley where earlier fruit could be produced. This has allowed California cherry growers to take advantage of excellent markets for fruit produced earlier than anywhere else in the United States.*
Usually the first fruit of the season is not the best that the fruit has to offer. The early peaches are usually small and the texture can be a little stringy and early apricots are a little tart and firm. But not the cherries; Brooks cherries are completely satisfying. True, they don’t always have the red flesh like Bing but they have a perfect acid-sugar balance and intense flavor. They are wide, fat, firm and meaty textured with a high flesh to pit ratio. They are beautiful to look at too; dark red, heart shaped with short stems they look like a perfect Valentine.
My kids are happy to eat cherries after a long winter and Spring of kiwi and citrus. Yes, and I find cherry pits in the most random places my car is littered with them, but I don’t care; my favorite cherry is here!