YAKIMA, Wash., June 6, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Northwest sweet cherries, a signature summertime fruit, are ripe and ready just in time to be the highlight of summer barbeques and Fourth of July celebrations. Since the season will be short this year, buying one bag for now and another to freeze for later usage is a great way to keep those extraordinarily sweet cherries around a little longer.
"This year will mark the earliest start of the cherry season we've ever seen," said Curtis Roy, a Northwest cherry grower based in Washington state's Yakima Valley. "We're expecting a great crop, hitting nearly 20 million boxes, and look forward to a very fruitful June and July this season. It'll be a shorter season this year, so if you want them to last a little longer, do like we do and freeze some for later."
Northwest cherries are known for their exceptional and unmatched sweet flavor profile due the ideal microclimate and rich volcanic soil of the area. The Northwest is known for producing a number of regional varieties including Bing cherries, the most popular and, and the super sweet Rainiers, born at Washington State University in 1952 and named after the beautiful Mt. Rainier. Rainiers tend to ripen even earlier in the year, so customers should keep their eye out and snag these off the shelves soon.
Northwest cherries' sweet flavor makes for a delicious snack on their own, but also a great addition to baking so bakers don't have to add extra sugar, resulting in more healthful pies, cakes, tarts and more. Fresh cherries should be kept in a tightly sealed bag or container and will keep for approximately two weeks when refrigerated.
To freeze cherries to use throughout the year, select three to five pounds of firm, ripe cherries. After rinsing and draining, spread whole cherries with stems in a layer on a baking sheet, freezing until firm and then packing into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags being sure to remove excess air and cover tightly. Another option is to dry sugar pack your cherries by adding 1/3 cup sugar for each pint of pitted or unpitted fresh sweet cherries, fill freezer container or bags, shaking to pack the fruit and covering tightly and freeze. Throw frozen cherries into smoothies or defrost and put in pies, turnovers and more.
For more information on sweet Northwest Cherries, seasonal and preservation recipes, health information and more, visit www.nwcherries.com.
About Northwest Cherries and Washington State Fruit Commission
Washington State Fruit Commission is a growers' organization funded by fruit assessments to increase awareness and consumption of regional stone fruits. The organization is dedicated to the promotion, education, market development, and research of soft fruits from Northwest orchards. It began in 1947 and has since grown to include five states – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah and Montana. For more information, visit www.nwcherries.com or www.wastatefruit.com.
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SOURCE Northwest Cherries