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The 2008 cherries are here !!!

Three vendors at the El Cerrito farmers market were selling cherries today.

The best were the Brook cherries from Palomino Family Farms (the stand that sells honey).

The Brook cherries didn't look as red as they should but they were crisp, full of flavor and better than my faded fond memories of last year's crop. Delicious and highly recommended.

Palomino was also selling burlat cherries, but I never like that early cherry. They are too soft for my taste. The best I can say about burlat cherries is that it means that bing cherries are only a few weeks away.

Second best were The Peach Farm's garnet cherries. These were beautiful deep ... well, garnet--colored ... but, IMO, they weren't as crisp or flavorful as the Brook. The vendor at Peach Farm said the garnet crop was excellent this year and the cherries were the largest he's ever seen. For a garnet variety these were the best I've ever tried. Usually a garnet is little better than a burlat.

The stand across from Peach Farm had ok, unmarked cherries. However, their strawberries were excellent.

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  1. Monterey Market has cherries today for $1.98/lb. Unmarked variety but dark and delicious.

    1. How funny! I was walking through Oakland Chinatown today and saw "California cherries" for $1.49. I bought some and was thinking of posting about cherry season being here.

      This should be a good year for local cherries: the cool dry weather I think is optimal.

      1. When I was driving down to Monterey I passed a few cherry shacks in Gilroy. My girlfriend is crazy about cherries so when I head back to the Bay I'll stop by. Here's hoping to some sweet ones! Btw, has anyone got a chance to pick some up in Gilroy?


        3 Replies
        1. re: Lando

          Most of the cherries came from further south, but give them a week or so.

          1. re: Lando

            My favorite stand in Gilroy is Christopher Ranch. Hope it's open by the time you're heading back. It's on the northbound side of 101 south of town.

            And here's more about the other stands from visits the last two seasons,

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Christopher Ranch was open today, a large box of an unmarked dark red variety (about two pounds?) was $5. They are sweet, but a little softer than I would like. I didn't see any garlic or other items for sale besides cherries. Not too bad getting on and off the freeway.

          2. I just received my annual postcard from Olson's in Sunnyvale. It said that cherry season had begun and that this season will be "bountiful." Their Cherry Festival is scheduled for Saturday, May 31 and Sunday, June 1.


            C J Olson Cherries
            348 W El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087

            2 Replies
            1. re: Nancy Berry

              I agree, Deborah is the third generation providing the very best available anywhere. The Cherry Festival is well worth attending.

              1. re: Nancy Berry

                I was just there an hour ago, and their cherries won't be in for another 2 or 3 weeks, depending on the weather. They currently have Bings and Burlats from Lodi.

              2. Many markets in SF Chinatown were selling cherries today. Prices ranged from 89 cents to $1.19/lb. If you go, look around before you buy. I bought some medium sized ones for $1.09/lb thinking they were large for so early in the season. I quickly realized I'd been hasty. There are already some really large ones, as big as I've ever seen Bing cherries get.

                The 89 cent ones, unsurprisingly, aren't really attention worthy. They're hardly bigger than your average raspberry.

                5 Replies
                1. re: Pei

                  They are down to as low as $0.69/lb in Chinatown for the full sized ones. There's also a guy who sells them on the street (Third and Market). Don't know his price, but he gets a lot of business.

                  1. re: Xiao Yang

                    I was also going to mention the low Chinatown prices----so much lower than all the other retail outlets. Costco has the 4-pound box for $12.

                    1. re: baron45

                      In SF Chinatown yesterday cherries were from 59¢ to 79¢ per pound. I looked at the crates and they're marked as "exceeds standards for doubles", mixed varieties, and originating in Tulare and Stanislaus. They taste just fine, if you don't mind the mixed sizes of large to small and various shapes.

                    2. re: Xiao Yang

                      Wow. At the MV farmer's market, they are all going for $5/lb and up.

                      1. re: anzu

                        I happened to drive by the corner market at 16th & Valencia and from the street, I saw a sign for cherries at 99 cents a pound.

                  2. Twin Girl farms had delicious organic cherries at the Ferry Plaza yesterday... (pops a few more in her mouth).

                    1 Reply
                    1. Thank goodness! I *just* ran out of my homemade brandied cherries.

                      1. I tried cherries from 3 or 4 vendors at Alemany on Saturday. By far the best were from the DeSantis stand; $3.50 a pound I think. Definitely some mealy or flavorless versions there, so make sure to sample.

                        The DeSantis cherries were great for snacking and also delicious cooked--I made duck legs with cherry sauce, a cherry clafouti and a cherry-sour plum jam and each one was pretty good.

                        1. Concord market had burlat and brooks and "sweet" last week. I guess there are no local sour cherries around here?

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: WCchopper

                            They show up a little later in the season.

                            1. re: rabaja

                              ... and briefly ... blink and they are gone. The best strategy is to ask your local cherry vendors if they will sell sour cherries and ask to have some reserved for you.

                          2. I will be in Napa this week heading to Calistoga, are there any good places to get cherries down there? I love cherries, and am from the midwest. Would love to get my hands on some. Thanks

                            1. Any suggestions for which farm in Brentwood to go for pick your own cherry?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Mul

                                We went to Brentwood yesterday to pick cherries. We went to DC Extraordinary Cherry farm, http://www.harvest4you.com/09dcec4.htm. They have Bing, Rainier, Utah Giant and Sweet Anne. $2/lbs. Since our favorite is Rainier, that's that we picked. The tree is low lying, so kids can pick the fruits themselves also. The rainier cherries are sweet and ripes; we ended up with 20 lbs of them.
                                There were quite a lot of folks went to Brentwood yesterday, so some farms may be closed today and tomorrow; if you are planning on going, call the farms directly.

                                1. re: Mul

                                  Thanks for the update and the great link. The D C link says it is Open Every Day including Memorial Day, 8:00 am to 5 pm during season.

                                  D C's Extraordinary Cherries
                                  Marsh Creek Rd Brentwood CA, Marsh Creek Rd Brentwood, CA

                              2. I've been dropping serious banknotes on Frog Hollow's Brooks cherries this season - at $7.70/lb, you'd think every 10th cherry had a solid-gold pit or something, but honestly, when it comes to cherries and all things stone-fruit, I can't quibble with the quality of their product (except when their dead-ripe fruit at the stands all too often teeters over the edge into overripeness and impending decay). Cherry season's so damn short anyway - I figure, why economize? Now I just have to figure out when to make the treks to Andy's Orchard and CJ Olson....

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: Spatlese

                                  I called Andy's orchard a few weeks ago, they said cherries would be ready at the end of May, which may be this weekend or it may still be another week away.

                                  I think if you look at the harvest calendar on their site and delay it by a week for this year's season, you should be able to plan well:

                                  1. re: Spatlese

                                    There is a vendor at the Wed. Civic Center market that sells organic cherries--Francesca's, I think. They are $6 a lb, both dark red ones and pale yellow with a little blush (she didn't have variety names posted when I stopped by yesterday and I'm not good enough with cherries. I'm guessing Bing and . . .) Both were delicious.

                                    1. re: Pistou

                                      The blushing yellow ones were probably Rainier. I like 'em too.

                                  2. First year we were in Napa in 2004, a cherry farmer set up shop in the weekly Farmer's Market, and although I've always liked cherries, I became something of an addict that first spring because it was the first time I got them that fresh. Raniers, Bings, and some others that I don't remember. Ate so many cherries I'd get sick and then I'd wait for the next weekend to start the whole thing over again. And then cherry season was over in a few short months, and the withdrawal was not pleasant.

                                    Although there are stalls that sell cherries at the Napa farmer's market, I really miss that that specialist whose cherries were a step up from the others. Each new spring I'm hoping that they'll return. Not yet. :-(

                                    During a moment of weakness one year at the very end of cherry season when even the supermarkets had slim pickings, I did go to www.olmsteadorchards.com and actually paid $29.95 for 2.5 lbs of Raniers to be mailed to me which I know is absolutely nuts. That being said, those cherries were delicious. Disconcertingly big but rather juicy and sweet.


                                    1. I can't help myself - no matter how many bags full of cherries I pile up in my fridge these days, I'm compelled to buy more every time I wander thru a farmer's market. Glad I did, too, because my latest score was 3 baskets of cherry perfection from Kaki Farms at the Tuesday Berkeley market. Ordinarily, I forego the pre-made baskets for sale because there's inevitably a big percentage of "misses" buried in the depths, which makes their sometimes-lower prices not so much of a bargain. These, though....wow. I've been plowing through one of the baskets as I type, and I haven't come across a single dud yet. Bings, I assume, though I don't recall if the sign specified the variety.