In a culture that expects everything at every minute, there are some things you still have to wait for.
You may be able to go to the grocery store and pick up an orange in the middle of summer, or an apple in the dead of winter, but what you can’t get year round is fresh cherries. Even more limited are Rainier cherries. My wife prefers them over all other cherries. They are super sweet and don’t stain your hands like the darker cherries. There is a lot to like about them, just not a lot of time to find them. I want to guide you through the Rainier season, so you know when to expect them. I wouldn’t want you to miss out on this short, sweet season.
Rainier Cherries Begin in California
The first Rainier cherries of the season will beginning showing up from California in late May to early June. There isn’t a huge supply of them and often the price is super high. They are only available briefly, then you may not see them in stores for a couple weeks until…
Washington Rainier Cherry Season
The state of Washington is definitely the Rainier state. When you think Rainier geographically, your mind should go straight to that Pacific state. This where the cherry orginated in 1952. It is a cross between the popular Bing cherry and the Van cherry. Late June is when the shipping of these cherries begins. The season lasts about until the beginning of August. A good year you got about 6-7 weeks to enjoys these delicate sweet cherries.
Do Other States Grow Rainiers?
Commercially speaking I have not heard of any state outside the west coast growing Rainiers. Michigan is third in cherry production but you rarely many Michigan rainiers. I do that Jollay Orchards in Coloma, Michigan grows some. If some other state could grow them well enough commercially then they would already be doing so.
Why are Rainier Cherries More Expensive?
One issue with the Rainier is that they bruise easily or the bruising shows up easier because of their lighter color. They are also more likely to be damaged by wind and rain. The supply of Rainier is nowhere near as large as more traditional dark red cherry. You also have to consider that people already pay more for them, so they probably will continue to pay more for them. If you want to learn more about why they are more expensive check out this informative article from the Seattle PI.
What Stores Have Rainier Cherries?
They have become so popular that pretty much any store that carries any fresh cherries will also offer Rainier cherries at some point in the season. Stores I have seen them in the past in include Kroger, Meijer, Whole Foods, Fresh Thyme to name some. Where do you like to buy Rainier cherries? Leave a comment below.
When are Rainier Cherries the Cheapest?
Look for sales in July. Typically around the Fourth of July I can find them on sale and pay as little as $2.99/pound.
Behind the Scenes Look
Check out this video below of a Rainier cherry grower from Washington and share in his excitement for these sweet cherries.
Do you need a cherry pitter to enjoy cherries? Not necessarily. Part of the fun is spitting the pits right. However if you are going to cook with cherries or freeze a lot of cherries, that is when I think it would make your life easier to get one. I have created a handy guide to help select the best cherry pitter.
- If you are going to buy a cherry pitter, I recommend getting one than will pit more than one cherry at a time with the ability to pit olives as well. I recommend trying the Geson Cherry Pitter, which is under $15.
If you are reading this and Rainier cherries are out of season, never fear, there are still options for you. Here a couple
- Chukar Cherries Dried Rainier Cherries – They would be great in muffins or other baked goods. And don’t forget the salads.
- Tillen Farm Rainier Cherries in a Jar – Put these on top of your next sundae. Their jarred cherries are by far the best I have tasted. Tillen Farm is a brand owned by Stonewall Kitchen – famous for their gourmet jams and other products. If you want to order the jars cherries directly from Stonewall you get 20% off your next purchase when you order with a free membership!
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