Growing Cherries the Size of Apricots, or Not{16}

handful of homegrown sweet cherries

I was feeling pretty smug about the several handfuls of fresh sweet cherries I had just plucked from my young orchard, when a friend dropped by to share the bounty of her trip to Eastern Washington–a veritable fruit basket of a region blessed by serious sun and abundant irrigation sources. Her gift, Rainier cherries the size of apricots, required three bites per cherry (and this from chops that have no trouble dispatching a sushi roll in one fell swoop).

giant size Rainier Cherry and small homegrown Rainier Cherry

The Rainier cherries on the left are from Eastern Washington while the ones on the right are Rainiers from my home orchard on Vashon Island in Western Washington. I marvel at the power of sun and water, how the same type of fruit can be so different based on where it’s grown and how it’s cared for. These big guys are grown for the export market, so they are surely more pampered than my backyard Bings–not a problem as I’ll take sweetness no matter how it’s packaged.

Van Sweet Cherries on the tree at tall clover farm

Van sweet cherries on the tree, a day or two from ripe

sweet cherries: Stella, Van, Rainier

My fresh-picked cherries clockwise going left: Rainier, Van and Stella

My sweet cherry trees are in their fifth year and doing admirably (as seen above). One particular variety, Early Burlat, has yet to produce a stone, but the tree looks quite healthy, so maybe next year. I guess it’s so early that it’s yet to have arrived. If you’re looking to grow a sweet cherry in a cooler climate, I had good luck with the varieties above and I just planted a Utah Giant cherry after reading some fine reviews of it as a taste test winner. My Montmorency sour cherries (and preferred pie filler) should be ready in a couple weeks–pies worth waiting for.

What I was blogging about a year ago: The Best Way to Ripen Peaches (and yes this really works).