Sweet Cherries

Available at: Spring Valley Orchard
Basket of sweet cherries in Afton VA

Picking Cherries

With so many beautiful cherries, it’s tempting to start picking the first ones you see. Take an extra second to make sure that cherry is just right! To spot the perfect sweet cherry, it may help to know that:

  • Cherries continue to grow larger until they are ripe. 
  • Deep red cherries are the sweetest, while lighter cherries are less sweet.
  • Ripe cherries are heavy, firm, and have shiny skin.
  • A fresh stem is the telltale sign of ripeness.

To pick cherries, grab the fruit with your thumb and forefinger. Begin to gently pull until the ripe cherry falls off right into your hand with the stem attached. Carefully place it in your basket, as throwing it in will lead to smushed cherries.

Cherry picking at Spring Valley Orchard

Keeping Cherries

Cherries are just as perishable as their berry counterparts; we recommend refrigerating them as soon as possible after picking. There’s no need to wash cherries before putting them in the fridge. In fact, washing cherries makes them more likely to spoil!

Sweet cherries keep longer when you leave the stem attached. Don’t fret if the stem comes off when you’re picking, just make sure to eat those cherries first!

Even the best cherries will only keep for a few days in the fridge, so make sure to eat or freeze them as soon as possible after picking.

Pitting Cherries

Pitting cherries is a great idea if you have small children at home, or if you plan to use the cherries in smoothies and other blended drinks.

There are plenty of ways to pit cherries without a cherry pitter. To easily pit your cherries:

  • Remove stem and hold the cherry between two fingers.
  • Using a metal straw, place the end of the straw in the stem hole.
  • Gently press the straw down until the pit falls out of the cherry.

Freezing Cherries

  • Work with small amounts (3 to 5 pounds) of fresh sweet cherries to allow for quick handling and freezing.
  • Select firm, ripe sweet cherries.
  • Rinse and dry cherries thoroughly.
  • Spread cherries with stems intact in a single layer on a baking sheet.
  • Freeze for a few hours until firm.
  • Pack into freezer-proof containers or plastic freezer bags; remove excess air, cover or fasten tightly, and freeze.

Allow the cherries to thaw for a few minutes after you remove them from the freezer. If you choose not to pit your cherries prior to freezing them, make sure not to bite straight into the center!