Montmorency Tart Cherries: From the Tree to the Table
Ever wondered how Montmorency tart cherries get from the tree to your plate? Find out everything you need to know about Montmorency tart cherry harvesting.
Montmorency tart cherries ripen in the summer months, with harvest typically taking place in July or August.
Montmorency tart cherries are grown almost exclusively on small, generations-old family farms in the U.S. and Canada. In fact, Traverse City, Michigan, is considered the Cherry Capital of the World, with about75% of Montmorency tart cherries coming from that region. Other prominent Montmorency tart cherry-producing states include Utah, Washington, New York, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
From the tree…
The harvest process is called “shaking”; it’s a big job that’s made faster thanks to the use of mechanical harvesting. When the Montmorency tart cherries are ripe, a harvesting machine encircles each individual cherry tree, agitating the trunk in a figure-eight motion until the cherries are shaken loose from the tree and dropped into a bed beneath.
A conveyor belt then whisks the fallen cherries to large bins of cold water, referred to as a chill down, before they are transported to a facility where they are rinsed with even colder water to retain firmness. Pitting the cherries is essential to the harvesting process because the majority of the cherries will be made into juice concentrate, dried or frozen.
Check out the video below for a glimpse of the harvesting process, captured by one of our foodie friends, Emily Caruso of Jelly Toast Blog.
… To your table
Because fresh Montmorency tart cherries are extremely delicate, 99% of the cherries harvested become frozen, dried, or juice products. If you live in one of the growing regions, Montmorency tart cherries can appear during harvest time at local farmers markets or local grocery stores. However, thanks to the plethora of dried, frozen, juice and concentrate available in stores nationwide, Montmorency tart cherries are always in season, which makes it easy to enjoy these super fruits year-round.
Tart cherries are a versatile ingredient that combines easily with a variety of flavors, textures and mealtimes. Their bright color and tart flavor is a natural match for cocktails and desserts, and they also cut through the richness of grilled meats or add a burst of intensity to salads and grains – along with a nutrient punch.
To start adding Montmorency tart cherries to your meals, visit our collection of Recipes featuring flavorful salads, mouth-watering desserts, on-the-go snacks and more!