Every year we look forward to cherry season as we welcome families from across California and beyond to join us at our orchards to pick their own fruit in this fun family activity. So ahead of this year's cherry-picking season, we thought we would share some great tips and tricks that we’ve learnt over the years to help you pick cherries like a pro!
How do I know when cherries are ripe?
Sweet cherries are ripe when it’s easy to pull the stems from the tree. Any cherries that you take off the trees should be plump, juicy and full of color! They should also be around 1 inch or 2 centimeters in diameter.
The color of ripe cherries will vary between the different types. Some varieties will ripen to a rich burgundy red such as the Bing Cherry, while others can have a golden yellow or red blush like the Rainier variety. It’s best to know what color to expect from a ripe cherry so you’re prepared for harvest time.
Sweet cherries should be tasted to see if they are ready to pick, while sour cherries will come off the stems when they are ripe enough to be harvested. So pick a ripe-looking cherry from your tree and give it a taste. A ripe sweet cherry will be sugary and juicy, whereas ripe tart cherries are soft and sour.
Unlike some other fruit, cherries will not ripen once removed from the tree. The longer you wait in the harvest season, the higher the sugar content which means the cherries will be sweeter. So waiting those few more days will result in rich cherries full of flavor. If you have any cherry trees at home, you will likely be out in your garden every few days picking cherries for a week or two as they ripen.
Our Best Tips for Picking Cherries
If you’re new to picking cherries, we have some great tips and tricks on how to pick cherries like a pro! Whether you’re picking cherries from your own trees at home or you’re visiting us this year at our cherry orchards, here are a few tips to keep in mind.
- Keep Cherry Stems Intact - For sweet cherries, they will last longer if they’re picked with their stems still attached to the fruit.
- Don’t Pick Underripe Cherries - Cherries don’t ripen once they’ve been picked from the tree. It’s best to wait until they’re fully ripe to make sure they are as sweet as possible. Underripe cherries will be much tarter.
- Keep Cherries Out of the Sun - As soon as the cherries have been picked from the trees, there is a short window of time to store them to maximize the freshness of the fruit. Once the cherries have been picked, place them in the shade while you’re still harvesting the fruit, then once you’re done, refrigerate the cherries as soon as possible.
- Don’t Leave Overripe Cherries - Overripe cherries could attract unwanted pests and diseases which can ruin the fruit, so it’s best to remove these from the trees so they don’t spoil the rest of the harvest. An overripe cherry will become very soft and mushy, and lose a lot of its color and flavor.
How To Pick Cherries From A Tree?
Cherries need to be handpicked as these delicate fruits bruise easily. Follow these 3 easy steps to get the best results when picking cherries from the tree -
- Gently hold the cherry between your fingers and thumb and gently pull the fruit. If the cherry is ripe, it will come off easily in your hand with the stem still attached. If it doesn’t pull away easily, leave this cherry to ripen for a bit longer.
- Repeat this process using both hands to harvest the cherries faster. Keep picking them until you have a small collection of around 3-5 cherries in each hand.
- Carefully place the cherries into the fruit containers and repeat this process until you have harvested all of the fresh cherries from the tree. Try not to overfill the containers or pack them down as this can bruise or crush the fruit.
Here are a few additional pro tips that you can use to get the best results from your cherry picking!
- Part the leaves with your hands to look for any cherries that might be hiding but are fully ripe
- Take care of the trees when picking the cherries, try not to tear the tree’s woody spur from the branches as this is where they grow new fruit each season.
- If there’s a high chance of rain, it’s best to harvest the cherries as quickly as possible beforehand, as rain causes the cherries to split which will ruin the fruit.
Preserving Cherries After Picking Them
After spending some time out in our orchards or in your garden picking cherries, it’s important to store the fruit correctly. Cherries only stay fresh for around 5-7 days after they’ve been picked from the trees. They are highly perishable fruit and will spoil if left out for too long, so keep them cool and in the shade as much as possible while out in the orchards. The best way to keep them fresh is to refrigerate the cherries or to freeze them if you have more cherries than you can possibly eat!
You can read our expert guide on how to freeze cherries to get the best results! Click here to find out how!
What is the best time for cherry-picking?
The best time for cherry-picking in our orchards is anywhere between mid May to mid June, but it really depends on many different factors, such as the weather, sunlight, water intake, and the type of tree you have planted. Most cherries will be ready by mid-June if you plan to pick the fruit around then.
We have a few detailed blog posts on when the cherry season is for California and beyond, helpful guides and so much more. Click the image below to read our latest blog posts!
Where to pick cherries?
Every year we open up the Orchards and invite you to pick as many cherries as you want at our wildly popular U-Pick Event! Bring your family and create great memories by spending quality time outdoors while filling your bag with the most delicious cherries in California!
Visit our page on The Orchard Experience to book your day here at Blooms Cherries here in Lodi, California and spend a few hours picking fruit for you to take home and enjoy. It will be an experience you will love!
Keep up to date with the latest Orchard Reports to find out how our trees are progressing this year by signing up to our emails. Be one of the first to find out when cherry season begins this year so you can join us for an exciting day of cherry-picking with your family and friends!