YAKIMA, Wash., June 28, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- This year's crop of Northwest sweet cherries is beginning to arrive on grocery store shelves in full-force across the U.S., putting the classic Americana fruit front and center for the Fourth of July holiday and beyond. Despite a late start due to one of coldest winters in the Pacific Northwest in decades, growers in the Northwest anticipate a record crop size lasting through August, so consumers can plan to enjoy their fresh and delicious sweet cherries through the thick of summer.
"A lot of risk and investment by our growers throughout the five states allow for different orchards to be picked at different times as the summer progresses," said James Michael, with the Northwest Cherry Growers, a growers' organization collectively representing Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah. "Together with a cold-chain that typically starts in the orchards and a top-speed packing and distribution system, that means our growers are truly delivering their peak of the season onto grocery shelves all summer long."
The Northwest is known for seven varieties including Bing cherries, the most popular cherry in North America, and the unique golden-blushed Rainiers, born at Washington State University in 1952 and celebrated each year on July 11 as National Rainier Cherry Day. Other popular varieties include the deep juicy sweet Tietons and heart-shaped Chelans on the shelves now, and late-season Lapins, dark Skeenas and bright red Sweethearts coming over the next few weeks. Aside from the light-hued Rainier (and its many sub-varieties), consumers can typically spot sweet cherries by their darker red skins – in general, the darker, the sweeter. Fresh cherries should be kept in a tightly sealed bag or container and will keep for approximately two weeks when refrigerated. Rinse just before eating for best longevity.
A beloved Independence Day treat for baking pies with less sugar or eating fresh from the stem, sweet cherries can also be enjoyed year-round by simply rinsing, packing and freezing them. To freeze cherries, select four 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. Add frozen, pitted cherries to smoothies or juices, defrost and put in hot cereals, pies, turnovers, cobblers, or enjoy frozen as sweet late-night treat.
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 Cherry Growers