Tart cherries - how far south in the US?

I had plans to travel from central Texas to Michigan this summer, specifically to pick the kind of tart/sour cherries that can’t be purchased in a store. It turns out I need to be in Arkansas during the standard harvest time. I thought that I’d locate a growing orchard somewhere south of MI, in order to reduce drive time to the cherries and merge both trips. My search efforts have proven, um, fruitless…

Perhaps the teeming millions can enlighten me? I’m trying to find the closest location to north central AR where tart/sour cherries can be picked, or purchased fresh in season.

I’m confused. If they still had their cherry the they wouldn’t be a tart…

Moved to Cafe Society.

General Questions Moderator

According to the USDA tart cherry production report for 2012, the only states with measurable tart cherry production are:
New York

That’s it.
source: http://usda01.library.cornell.edu/usda/current/CherProd/CherProd-06-28-2012.pdf

You could check out http://www.pickyourown.org/ - search by state. I didn’t see any listing for cherries in Arkansas, but a few in Missouri, like this one. WARNING: Comic Sans. Do farmers not have children to help them design web pages?

Looking at your PDF, wow. I knew MI crops got it really bad thanks to mother nature last year, but I didn’t realize it was THAT bad. :frowning:

The Missouri location looks promising. I’ll be calling them. Thanks so much for the info!

Happy to help :slight_smile: Harks back to my good old days as a Google Answers researcher…

I’ve gotten frozen tart cherries before…but it was at a local food bank and I don’t know where they came from. Wish I could find out; they made lovely jam!

Unfortunately, cherries haven’t been a commercial crop in Arkansas for a number of decades. I have never seen Arkansas cherries for sale anywhere in the state. I suppose they might exist but if they do it’s in very small quantities.

they do not grow in California so I buy morello cherries in jars from Trader Joes. They are excellent.

Tart cherries are available frozen at Meijer stores in Indiana and Illinois. I grew up eating cherry pies made with fruit from my grandmother’s Northstar tree. The frozen ones are 95% as good.

FWIW, my grandmother’s Northstar tree was along the Ohio river in Indiana, which is growing zone 6. So the tart cherry trees do grow in that kind of climate.

May i ask what you are using the cherries for, given that you’re moving Heaven and Earth to procure them? i’m just a curious foodie who’s a Sucker for a Good Food Story…

This, and you can also buy canned in water (not goo). The Oregon brand is ridiculously expensive ($3-4 for a can), but you can find other brands for ~$1/can.

While maybe not a significant commercial presence, I have had sour cherries picked in Illinois, Kansas, and New Mexico.

The tart cherries are the only ones that make good pies.

My mother-in-law planted a pie cherry tree when she and my father-in-law bought their first house in 1958. My husband and I bought the house from them in 1982, and I froze cherries for pies every year until we moved in 2001. We ran out of frozen cherries three years later, and ever since I’ve searched for frozen tart cherries. A local food store had the Shur-Fine brand for a few years, but they stopped carrying them in 2009.

The canned cherries in water aren’t a bad substitute, but they don’t have the nice firm texture of the fresh or frozen ones. I’ve pretty much come to the conclusion that I’ll just have to plant my own cherry tree and wait.

As far as I know, you should be able to find pie cherries right in your local community. They are an early season cherry, ready at least a month before sweet cherries.

They aren’t grown and shipped commercially because they don’t hold up to shipping.

Try putting an ad on craigslist or someplace similar, looking for pie cherries. You’ll have to pick and process them yourselves out of folks yards. Lots of people have the trees for the blossoms, but let their cherries go to waste.

No food story here, St.Barthgirl… I simply plan to eat them - ridiculous amounts of them. No freezing, cooking, canning, or any other preparation that will destroy the singular sensory experience of perfectly ripe tart cherries fresh from the tree.

Not sure if this matters much to you, but just to let you know this year’s Michigan crop was terribly affected by the unseasonably warm winter…The trees bloomed too early and then died off with the next frost. Those that couldn’t be covered in time died. Almost all of the cherry crop was destroyed up here, many places (Cherry Republic, for example) had to import 90% of their cherries from Poland!
I hope it doesn’t happen again this summer…but this winter is already starting to act weird…

Craigslist is a good idea! - I’ll post local requests.

I saw where Michigan cherry production dropped from over 150 million pounds in 2011 to appx. 5.5mp in 2012. Very discouraging but, I’m keeping the faith for this year.

Thanks, everyone, for the input and suggestions.

Here in Northern Virginia I searched long and hard to find them. I prefer Early Richmond but the only think available commecially is probably Montmorency. A lot depends on the weather. I have a source who gets them maybe 2 years out of 3 and can supply me with 40 or 50 pounds. The third year they don’t ripen correctly because of too much rain.

Last year I found a place near Winchester VA that has hundreds of pick-your-own trees. They all ripen the same week and they do not last once picked. Come on up to Virginia in late June. PM me and I’ll send you a link.