Ripening Guide

Learn more about the many fruits of Toronto's Urban Orchard

Sour Cherries

Sour cherry trees produce smooth, round fruit that grow in clusters with long stems. Sour cherries vary in colour and size depending on variety. They tend to be a red-orange colour when ripe, though some varieties are purple or darker red.

  • June
  • July
  • August

How to tell when cherries are ripe: When the cherry stem pulls easily from the tree and the fruit is plump and juicy. Slightly unripe cherries will ripen after they’ve been picked but very unripe cherries don’t ripen well off the tree.

When to submit a pick request: Sour cherries ripen very quickly, so a good time to do this is when cherries are full size (usually about the size of a quarter), taste almost ripe, and have changed colour very recently. When sour cherries are pink or orange but not yet bright red, they’ll usually be at peak ripeness in a few days time.

Picking tips: Grip the stems of the cherries and twist a full turn of the wrist. If this doesn’t separate the stem from the branch, give the stems a pull, trying not to pull off the leaves or the bark of the branch.

Storage tips: Keep the stem attached to the fruit as this will allow the cherries to store better. Sour cherries bruise easily and will not last long once they’ve been picked. For optimal storage, pack loosely in a single layer, store in the fridge and eat within a few days!

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