Monday, July 21, 2008

Rainier Cherries Are for the Birds

It's that time of year. Rainier cherries are now appearing at groceries and farmers' markets across America.

I love their creamy yellow flesh, but their relatively high price reflects the fact that up to one-third of the crop is eaten by birds each year.

This 2001 article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer gives a nice overview of Rainier cherries, and I love this quote from an orchard owner: "Growing these cherries is like playing poker with God."

But I don't agree with this newspaper article's description of Rainiers as "the sweetest" of cherries. I'd say Rainier cherries have just a hint of tartness. I have never seen a cherry pie recipe that calls for Rainiers, and I'm guessing that's because other varieties simply bake better.

Only about 6% of all the cherries grown in Washington State are Rainier cherries.

Anyway, as long as I get my mid-summer fix of Rainier cherries, I'm more than willing to share some with birds.

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