All About Cherries
Tart Cherry Industry OverviewAn in-depth look at all aspects of the business of growing tart cherries, from planting to processing.
The red tart cherry, Prunus cerasus, is a perennial tree fruit related to the plum, peach, apricot, almond, and numerous other species of the north temperate zone. It is grown commercially for its tart and juicy fruit, which is primarily used in baking and cooking. Fully ripened tart cherries may be eaten raw, but are too acid for many palates. The raw fruit stores poorly and its shelf life is too short for the fresh-market trade.
Taxonomy, cultivarsThe different types of cherries are discussed, including the varieties that are commercially important and their history and culture.
Cherries occupy the Cerasus subgenus within Prunus, being fairly distinct from plums, apricots, peaches, and almonds. They are members of the Rosaceae family, subfamily Prunoideae. Prunus avium L. is the Sweet Cherry, and Prunus cerasus L. the Sour Cherry. As a group, cherries are relatively diverse and broadly distributed around the world, being found in Asia, Europe, and North America.
Tart Cherry ProcessingTart cherries are extremely perishable and are processed canned, or frozen, immediately after harvest. This page gives a brief description and a few photographs of cherry processing.
Cherries are ready to harvest when the fruit is red and the stem detaches easily from the pit. Mechanical harvesting (shaking) has replaced hand picking. Harvesters shake the fruit from the tree onto a fabric apron. After cherries are removed from the tree they are placed in cold water to prevent scalding (discoloration). Cherries are delivered to the processing plant in water. For this reason, cherries are bought by volume.