Sweet, red cherries are a fantastic summer fruit that you can enjoy straight from the tree or in your tasty desserts. But when are cherries in season?
The earliest time of the year when you can get cherries from your local farmer’s market is around mid-May.
But it can be a good idea to let the fruit ripen for a few weeks and buy juicy cherries from June until August.
In this guide, we discover when cherries are ripe and how you can spot ripe cherries.
When Is Cherry Season?
Cherry season can vary depending on your location but most sweet cherries are ripe from the middle of May. That’s the time when produce stands sell their cherries.
However, grocery stores typically only start selling cherries in June and July. In fact, July is the peak season for cherries, so that’s when you can buy the sweetest cherries.
By the end of July and early August, the cherry season ends and you will only be able to get pickled or preserved cherries from your local grocery store.
Factors That Influence Cherry Season
There are a number of different factors that impact when cherry season happens in the United States.
Where You Live
As a rule of thumb, when you live in a warmer climate, you can expect the cherry season to start a few weeks earlier.
This is especially true for states along the West Coast, such as California and Oregon.
In addition, cherries don’t grow everywhere in the US. They have the best conditions on the West Coast.
This means that if you live on the East Coast or the Midwest, then cherries will need to be shipped all across the country.
This doesn’t just make cherries more expensive in these parts of the country but it also means cherry season starts a few weeks later.
People on the East Coast can expect to buy their cherries in a grocery store from the middle of June.
However, this doesn’t have to be a bad thing because cherries have enough time to ripen, so you can enjoy sweet cherries at their best.
The Specific Cherry Variety
The cherry season also depends on the local cherry variety grown in your area.
The most common type of cherry enjoyed by Americans is the Bing cherry but there are plenty of other varieties that ripen between May and August.
When Do Cherries Ripen?
The ripening process of cherries can vary depending on the fruit variety, the local climate and the weather conditions during spring.
Generally, it takes between 55 and 90 days for cherry trees to produce blooms and cherry fruits.
While cherries can be harvested as early as 55 days, the fruit gets sweeter if you wait for a few more days.
This means that it is better to pick your sweet cherries between June and August.
However, sour cherries and tart cherries usually have a shorter growing season, so they are often only around for a couple of weeks in warmer regions during June.
If you live in a colder area, then you can expect to harvest your tart or sour cherries from late July until mid-August.
Can You Get Cherries All Year Round?
With well-connected global supply chains, you can buy different varieties of cherries almost all year round.
Specific cherry varieties also grow in warm climates during the winter, including tart cherries. However, they have a distinctive sweet and sour flavor, so they are different from your normal cherries.
If you want to enjoy cherries out of season, then you can also get your favorite cherries from May to August and pickle them in a jar.
Alternatively, you can also dry cherries or store them in the freezer to preserve the cherries for months.
Is It Worth Waiting For Cherries To Be In Season?
Yes, it is definitely worth the wait for sweet, juicy cherries.
Eating cherries at the right time of year between June and August means that you can enjoy your fruit at the peak of its ripeness.
Although cherries are also available all year round at grocery stores, they often don’t have the same wonderful flavor and aroma you get from freshly-picked cherries.
Plus, cherries out of season are usually also a lot more expensive than seasonal cherries.
Can You Eat Cherries Directly From The Tree?
Absolutely! You can pick your own cherries at your local farm and enjoy them fresh from the tree. This is the best way to eat cherries.
Just keep in mind that each cherry contains a small stone, so make sure to remove the stone before you eat the fruit.
The best way to eat cherries is to cup one hand over your mouth and push the pit inside the cherry forward with your tongue. You can then catch the small stone with your fingers.
You can either throw the pit into the trash or collect the cherry stones and grow your own cherry tree in your yard at home.
How To Tell When Cherries Are Ripe
One of the most obvious signs that cherries are ready is when you see them for sale at your local grocery store or a farmer’s market.
But if you want to check whether the fruit are actually ripe, then there are a few signs that you can look out for, including:
- Firm texture: A ripe cherry should be firm but not hard.
- Smooth surface: Ripened cherries have a smooth surface without blemishes.
- Dark color: Depending on the cherry variety, most cherries should have a black or dark red color. Rainier cherries should be blush red or vibrant yellow.
- Attached stem: When the stem is still attached to the cherry, then this can be a sign that your cherry is ripe.
Cherry trees aren’t just beautiful when they bloom late in spring but they also produce fruit faster than most other trees.
Once cherries are ripe in late spring, you can harvest this sweet and delicious fruit to enjoy in your fruit salad or a tasty cherry dessert.