Ripening Guide

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

Sweet Cherries

Cherry trees produce smooth, round fruit that grow in clusters with long stems. Cherries vary in colour and size depending on variety. Ripe sweet cherries can be dark red, bright red, yellow, yellowish-red or black when fully ripe.

  • June
  • July

How to tell when cherries are ripe: Sweet cherries are ripe when their stems pull easily from the tree and the fruit is plump and juicy. You can do a taste test to know when they’re ready to pick – sweet = ready! 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: 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 they are red but not yet dark 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. 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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