Our stone fruit harvest begins with the arrival of one of the most celebrated fruits of the year. Cherries have a brief but memorable season, and as one of the easiest fruits to store for baking with, our cherries help sustain the kitchen long after their harvest is finished. Named for the Turkish town of Cerasus, cherries have been cultivated since about 300 BCE. In 1912 they came to the U.S. by way of Japan, as a gift of friendship from the people of Japan. As eagerly awaited as the cherries themselves is their blossoming, and if weather permits, we hold a yearly blossom festival to share the beauty of our orchard with the public.
In the United States, sweet cherries are grown primarily on the West coast, with Washington producing over 50% of the country's cherry crops. Cherry orchards are plentiful in and around the Sacramento Delta, as here under the brilliant sun, sweet cherries find a perfect climate to flourish. We grow four varieties of sweet cherries that are typically harvested in mid-May to mid-June:
The Brooks are our first cherries off the tree. The variety was developed at U.C. Davis in the 1980s and doesn't sacrifice taste, color or texture for its early arrival. They resemble the Bing with a more balanced sweetness in their dark, rich flesh. Brooks are typically available in mid-May or early June.
The Rainier is the only white cherry we grow. Created in 1952 at Washington State University, they are a cross between the Bing and Van. Plump, delicious, and with extremely sweet creamy flesh, they can be more fragile than the dark cherries. Rainiers are typically available in late May to mid-June.
Farmer Al likes to say, "Bing is King!" Not only is the Bing our most popular variety, they're the most popular and commonly grown cherry in California today. For good reason, as they are the sweetest, juiciest variety with a delightfully crisp firmness to their deep red flesh. Bings are typically available in late May to late June.
Stella cherries are dark almost to the point of being black and slightly smaller than the big, bold Bing. The final cherry of a brief season, our limited Stella crop is mostly easily found at our Ferry Building location and at our farmers market appearances. Stellas are typically available in mid to late June.