It’s the question I am asked the most as a resident of Door County. When will the cherries be ready?
Door County, located on a quaint peninsula that juts 70 miles out into the waters for Green Bay and Lake Michigan, is THE place for cherries if you live in Wisconsin. With an average crop between 6 to 10 million pounds a year, the tiny peninsula ranks fourth in cherry production in the country.
Cherry blossoms typically arrive around the week before Memorial Day. Come mid-July, those delicate flowers have transformed into ripe, delicious cherries, ready to be put in pies, tarts and jams. But you have to work fast! The season only lasts around 3 to 4 weeks. Luckily, the cherries freeze extremely well so you can savor them throughout the year.
The majority of cherries grown in Door County are a bright red sour variety called Montmorency. Ninety-nine percent of the crop is made up of the cherry red (pardon the pun) beauties. Sour cherries are not for eating raw. They are best when transformed into a tart cherry pie, jam or crisp. Preferred by bakers, the Montmorency retains its shape and holds up well to heat.
But don’t be surprised to see some other cherry varieties when you visit your favorite orchard in Door County. Sour cherry varieties known as Richmond and Balaton are also found in the county as well as some sweet varieties.
When cooking with cherries, remember that the sour varieties are the ones you want to steer towards. Sweet cherries are great for eating, but don’t hold up to heat well. Use them in salads or any other recipes that call for raw cherries.
Visiting Door County to pick cherries? Check out the Cherry Report on the Door County Visitor’s Bureau website. You will know when the blossoms are ready to view and when the cherries are ready to pick.
Learn more about cherries by reading my cherry article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Here are a couple of recipes to get in the mood to pick and eat the favorite fruit of Door County….the cherry!
Sour Cherry Hand Pies
make a “hand held” pie…..perfect when you want your own individual cherry pie!
Sweet Cherry and Nectarine Bruschetta
goat cheese spread with fresh mint on top of toasted French bread with sweet cherries and nectarines
Serve as an appetizer or a dessert, topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or lemon sorbet
Sour Cherry Clafouti
Make in a cast-iron skillet, this French classic is great for dessert or breakfast.
A mixture of raw finely chopped vegetables is tossed with dried Door County cherries and crunchy walnuts.
Fun fact…….It takes 8 pounds of cherries to make one pound of dried cherries!
Cherry ketchup? Try it, you’ll love it!
Great on a burger, grilled fish, pork or chicken. I can it and have it available year-round.