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Orondo Ruby Cherries: Big, Complex Flavor

Orondo cherries 2One of the great things about summer is all the sweet, ripe fruits that come available. Well, summer just got a bit sweeter with Orondo Ruby Cherries, a patented cherry variety grown exclusively by G&C Farms in Orondo, Washington. Previously only available in limited quantities, these super sweet little beauties are available nationally for the first time, but they’re here only for a short time.

After reading Yvette Cardozo’s story about Tracking Down the Orondo Ruby Cherry, our editorial panel wanted to know what’s so special about Orondo Ruby Cherries. So we conducted a blind taste test with our panel of expert culinary judges. We compared Bing cherries, Rainier cherries and the new Orondo Ruby cherries.

Bing cherries, a common variety readily available in the U.S., are deep red with red interior. They can be rather soft in texture and are quite sweet with a single-note of cherry flavor. Rainier cherries are a red-blush variety with a yellow flesh that are available in the Pacific Northwest. These cherries have a firmer texture and a crisper bite than Bings. They’re not quite as sweet as Bings and have more acidity, which gives these cherries their sweet-tartness.

Like so many wonderful parts of summer, Orondo Rubies are available for only a brief time. Photo Yvette Cardozo.

Like so many wonderful parts of summer, Orondo Rubies are available for only a brief time. Photo Yvette Cardozo.

Orondo Ruby cherries are scarlet blush-red with a golden yellow flesh. They taste like a really good Bing cherry crossed with an exquisite Rainier cherry. They are not as sweet as Bings, but sweeter than Rainiers. Unlike single-flavored Bings, these cherries have more complexity and layers of flavor (tests show they have 20% more sugar and acidity than Rainiers). They’re large and have a crisp bite and tests show they naturally have a longer shelf life than other types of cherries. Our editorial panel concluded these big, juicy, sweet-tart Orondo Ruby Cherries are the best cherries they’d ever tasted.

Our editorial panel loved the Orondo Ruby cherries eaten out of hand, but we also tried them chopped up in Greek yogurt, in a fruit salad with pineapple and watermelon, and in a salad with mixed greens, tomatoes, avocados, and feta cheese. They were equally delicious in every application.

We received comments from our reviewers like “Great crisp bite;” “Complex flavors with nice balance of sweetness and acidity;” “Best cherry I’ve ever eaten. Where can I buy this?” and “Big cherry flavor. Satisfying snap when you bite into them.”

A Happy Natural ‘Accident’

Where, you might ask, did Orondo Ruby cherries come from? It was a fortuitous fluke of nature. Back in 2001, farmer Marcus Griggs found a little seedling in his Rainier cherry orchard. He nurtured this different little tree and it produced amazingly big cherries with juicy sweet-tart that he called Orondo Ruby.

Like many summer fruits, Orondo Ruby cherries are available for only a very limited time (generally late June through mid-to-late July). You can find them across the nation at various Kroegers and Sam’s Clubs. In the Pacific Northwest, you can buy Orondo Ruby cherries at QFC, Metropolitan Market and Central Market.

If you get a chance to try Orondo Ruby cherries this year, do it. If you miss them, look for them next season. Orondo Ruby cherries are worth waiting for. – Bobbie Hasselbring, RFT Editor

Be sure to try these Orondo Ruby Cherry recipes:

Orondo Ruby Cherry Martinis

Cherry Barrata Panna Cotta

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Yvette Cardozo, RFT Ski & Dive Editor

Yvette Cardozo from the Seattle, Washington area, likes to visit interesting places and learn about interesting cultures and, if a tasty local dish is involved, so much the better. She’s eaten everything from gourmet food at the world’s finest restaurants to native food in Asia, the arctic, and all kinds of places in between.Yvette recalls being in Antarctica and going out on the land with Inuit elders in arctic Canada , then bagging a caribou. They dragged it back to camp and ate it on the spot raw. She quips, “Hey, if you like steak tartare….”Yvette, who is a veteran skier and diver, is RFT’s Ski & Dive Editor.