One of my favorite things to do is search out different varieties of fruit to taste and review. With some fruits that task is harder than others. Cherries is one of the more difficult fruits. Although cherries don’t differ as much as something like an apple, there still are differences (in things like sweetness and firmness of the fruit). Problem I have is that it’s hard to tell cherries apart by just looking at them, and most grocery stores don’t advertise them by variety, with the exception of the popular Bing and Rainer. But I got a tip from a representative from Stemilt Fruit Growers. Even if the store doesn’t advertise the variety, it will appear on the box the cherries were packed in. This past weekend, I found some cherries from Stemilt. They were sitting in the box they were packaged in. Looking further at the box, I was happy not to see the word “Bing”. Not that I don’t like Bing cherries, I do, but I have had them before many times. The cherries turned out to be Chelan cherries.
The Chelan cherry was created by a researcher from Washington State University. It is an early season cherry, one of the first to be harvested in Washington each year. It looks very similar to a Bing cherry. It is a dark red, medium sized cherry. It does have some advantages over the Bing. Chelans ripen on average 10-12 days before the Bing. They also seem less likely to produce double fruit or cracked cherries.
So what about flavor? It’s very similar to a Bing cherry, but I think a little less sweet. But it’s still very much a sweet cherry. I have heard claims that it contains somewhere around 16% sugar. Just as a Bing, it makes for a great out of hand eating cherry.
Want to have some fresh Washington cherries shipped to your door? You can purchase them at Stemilt’s online store – Bountiful Fruit.