Life is just a bowl of cherries.
What are Rainier cherries? What do they taste like? And why do they cost more money? Here are all your answers about this sweet summer fruit.
What Are Rainier Cherries?
Head to the grocery store or farmers market in June and July, and chances are you will see bags and bags of deep red cherries, ripe and ready for snacking and baking. But for a short time window, you may notice another type of cherry: Rainier cherries.
Unlike their dark sweet cherry counterparts, these guys are yellow and blush hued, with a few other differences (and similarities). Read on for everything you need to know about this ephemeral summer treat.
Where do These Cherries Come From? Why Are They Pale?
Rainier cherries were developed in the 1950s at Washington State University, as a hybrid between Van and Bing cherries. A produce breeder named Harold Fogle originally developed the cherry while experimenting on ways to extend the cherry growing season.
Van and Bing cherries–the two varietals crossed to develop the Rainier–are both dark red. However, both carry a recessive gene which, when combined, resulted in the new cherry’s pale color. Originally sold as pollinator trees, this new hybrid fruit eventually gained popularity due to its sweetness and unique color.
Are Rainier Cherries Nutritious?
Like dark sweet cherries, these little stone fruits are are highly nutritious, and boast high levels of potassium, plus vitamins A and C, and fiber. They have a slightly higher brix (sugar) content than standard, dark red cherries, but the sugar content is offset by fiber and other nutrients.
What Do Rainier Cherries Taste Like?
Like dark red cherries, but even sweeter.
When Are They in Season?
These cherries have a short growing season compared to standard cherries, due to their delicate, easily bruised skin and sensitivity to weather conditions. You’ll find them at the market beginning around mid-June until mid-July or so.
Some Great Summer Fruit Desserts You’ll Love:
Summer Stone Fruit and Burrata Caprese Salad
- 8 ounces fresh burrata (or fresh mozzarella)
- 6 small Italian sweet plums, or 3 standard purple plums, halved or cut into wedges, pits removed
- 3 small- to medium-sized peaches, sliced
- 1 large handful of cherries
- 1 pint sungold or grape tomatoes, halved
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- fresh basil leaves, torn
- 1 generous pinch of flaky sea salt, like Maldon
- fresh-cracked black pepper
- 6 to 8 slices prosciutto de Parma, optional
- 1 tablespoon aged balsamic vinegar, optional
- Arrange the fruit and prosciutto (if using) on a serving platter, scattering the tomatoes last.
- Drain the burrata and gently cut into large halves or quarters. Nestle amid the fruit.
- Drizzle everything with the olive oil (especially the burrata) and the aged balsamic vinegar, and sprinkle all over with a generous pinch of salt and fresh pepper. Add the basil and serve.