Cherries are small, deep red, and exquisitely sweet fruits with small pits that can chip a tooth if you bite into it. Cherries arrived in the United States through the port of Brooklyn, New York, which was known as New Netherland back then. Of all of the myths in the United States, none is famous than the one involving George Washington and a cherry tree. This myth has become an essential part of America’s cultural heritage. The United States ranks 2nd in the world in total sweet cherry production.
- Kingdom: Plantae
- Order: Rosales
- Family: Rosaceae
- Genus: Prunus
- Species: P. avium
- Binomial name: Prunus avium
- On average, a cherry tree will produce 800 fruits per year
- The largest cherry pie on record was made in BC, Canada weighing in at 39,683 pounds
- There are approximately 44 cherries in one pound
- Americans consume 1.5 pounds of cherries per person per year
- There are seven separate fruit appreciation days for cherries
- National Chocolate Covered Cherry Day is on January 3rd
- National Cherry Pie Day is on February 22nd
- National Cherry Cheesecake Day is on April 23rd
- National Cherry Cobbler Day is on May 17th
- National Cherry Dessert Day is on May 26th
- National Cherry Turnover Day is on August 28th
- National Cherries Jubilee Day is on September 24th
- There are over a thousand varieties of cherries in the United States, but only ten are produced commercially
Cherry Buying Guide
The good thing about cherries is that most markets will let you try them before you make a purchase. Depending on the variety of cherry, the sweetness levels will vary.
If you’re not allowed to taste the cherries, look for plump cherries and with the stems still attached. The stems should still be fresh and green when you purchase them.
Cherry Production & Farming in Texas
Sweet cherry production has been attempted in various parts of Texas and was found to be ineffective. The majority of the locations in Texas don’t have the required number of chill hours for the cherry tree to thrive.
Bird damage and rot have also caused problems for Texas growers that attempted to produce sweet cherries commercially.
So far, only two varieties of sweet cherries have fruited well in some regions of Texas.
- The “Royal Lee” – This variant of cherry requires only 200 hours of chill time and has been successfully grown in some areas. The fruit of this variant is very firm, heart-shaped, and has excellent color and flavor.
- The “Minnie Royal” – This variant of cherry also only requires 200 hours of chill time and is used as a pollinator for the “Royal Lee.” The fruit produced by this variant is medium-sized and has a good flavor as well.
The cherry ranks number 8 in EWG’s Dirty Dozen list. Over 90% of cherries tested showed at least one or two pesticide residues.
If possible, go for organic cherries if they are available and try to avoid the mass-produced varieties.
Cherries thrive in deep, well-drained soil with a pH level of 6.0-6.5. Cherry trees need to have a constant source of moisture, but they need to be adequately drained as well due to them being susceptible to rot. Cherry trees are classified as having a USDA plant hardiness score of 9, so it’s best to check out your area’s classification before attempting to grow cherry trees.
Cherries are hand-picked from the trees during harvest. Only cherries that are in the right ripeness levels are picked, and the rest are left on the tree to be harvested at a later date.
After harvesting, cherries are then sent to a packinghouse where they are further processed.
The first step in processing the cherries is that they are gently dumped into sanitized water. Cherries that float are considered bad and are removed from the batch. The rest of the cherries then continue down the conveyor belt where they are cut and separated from the bunch, carefully making sure that each piece has a stem attached to it.
The cherries are then hand sorted to remove any rotten, deformed, and blemished pieces.
After sorting, they are packed in boxes and then cooled to remove any residual field heat before being sent out to customers.
Before eating any cherry, it is a good idea to rinse them off in hot running water to remove any trace of pesticides on the surface of the fruit. You can then dump them in an ice bath to quickly chill it before eating.
A step that we find helpful is to use a cherry pitter to remove the pits of the cherries before consuming them. The cherry pit is very hard and can chip a tooth if you accidentally bite down on one. On top of that, cherry pits are mildly toxic, so it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you’re keeping cherries at room temperature, it’s best to consume them immediately.
You can keep cherries in the refrigerator in a sealed plastic bag for up to two weeks. Do not wash the cherries if you plan on storing them. Only wash cherries before consumption.
To freeze cherries, wash them thoroughly, remove the pits and arrange them in a single layer on a sheet pan. Place the pan into the freezer for them to freeze and then transfer to a plastic bag once they are frozen. Frozen cherries last for a long time, so if you see a nice batch of organic cherries, you can stock up!
Cherries are best used in sweet preparations. Frozen cherries can be easily turned into sauces and pies while fresh cherries are used as toppings for ice cream, salads, and appetizers.
This bright red fruit is packed with wholesome goodness that your body needs.
- If you are going through a limited carb diet, it is best to limit your cherries for about a dozen pieces per sitting.
- While cherries are high in sugar and carbs, its glycemic index and glycemic load are one of the lowest in all fruits. This means that eating cherries have a very minimal impact on your blood sugar levels even though they are super sweet.
- Cherries are a rich source of fiber, providing 2.1g for every serving you consume.
- Fiber helps maintain proper gut health by binding with unwanted toxins and flushing them out of your body.
- Vitamins and minerals:
- Vitamin C and Potassium
- One serving of Cherries supplies you with 18% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin C and 10% of the recommended daily intake of Potassium.
- Vitamin C helps build up your immune system, as well as provides a range of antioxidant benefits.
- Potassium helps enhance muscle activity and provides for proper electrolyte balance.
- Vitamin C and Potassium
When Are Cherries in Season in Texas?
To find out when Cherries are in season in Texas, please check the seasonal chart below. Why is this important? We are rarely encouraged to think about the physical lengths our food travels before arriving on the market shelves. And all of this travel comes with a hefty environmental cost that is concealed from the consumer’s eye. One of the most salient benefits to eating seasonally is that you are effectively reducing your carbon footprint and supporting a more geographically sustainable food economy. Check other fruit and veg that’s in season in Texas now.