Kelowna Fruit: A Guide to Cherries in the Okanagan

Visit local grocery stores to grab some of the Okanagan’s finest local cherries. 

Visit local grocery stores to grab some of the Okanagan’s finest local cherries. 

Due to fertile soil and amazing year-round climate, local growers and orchardists have been growing and harvesting tree fruits for generations. Besides providing local residents with top-notch local fresh produce, the industry is also enticing tourists to flock to the valley to see firsthand how their food is created.

Before you head to your local grocery store or to the Kelowna farmer’s market on the hunt for ripe, Okanagan-bred cherries, it’s a good idea to know what types exist and when they’ll be available. We’ve created a helpful guide to prepare you for cherry season.

The Different Cherry Types

The Okanagan has the ability to produce many different kinds of cherries. Some of the most common types include:

Rainier Cherries

These large, sweet cherries are a local favourite. They’re lighter in colour with a red blush. They’re perfect for fresh eating due to their distinct sweet flavour. These cherries blossom around the end of April and are typically ripe and ready for picking sometime in July.

Van Cherries

This popular cherry has been harvested in the Okanagan for an exceptionally long time. They’re smaller than other varieties and are very dark in colour. Because they are really sweet, they’re great for fresh eating or canning. Ready by the end of June/early July, these cherries are generally one of the first cherries to find their way into the Okanagan marketplace.

Bing Cherries

The largest of cherry varieties, Bing cherries used to be the staple cherry in the Okanagan valley. They’re iconic and loved by many since they resemble a heart shape and are a deep maroon hue. These versatile cherries are the most commonly stocked supermarket cherry, and they’re excellent for eating fresh or transforming into jams, jellies, and pies.

Santina Cherries

Santina cherries are relatively new to the Okanagan as they were originally introduced in the 1960s. They’re average in size and black in colour. Like the other cherries, they’re very sweet and harvested in mid to late June. Santina cherries are perfect for eating right off the tree or great for use in dessert recipes.

Skeena Cherries

These large, black cherries are typically ready for picking around mid July to mid August. Like the other cherries grown in the Okanagan, they’re wonderfully sweet and strong-flavoured.

Sweetheart Cherries

With a unique taste, Sweetheart cherries are more preferred for canning and preserves. They keep really well so are great for sending home with friends and family visiting the area. Sweetheart cherries are ready for picking later in the season, typically around late July or mid August.

Lapin Cherries

Lapin cherries are the most popular variety of cherry grown around the world. They’re ready for picking in mid July and are excellent for making sweet cherry jelly and jam.

Lambert Cherries

These large, round cherries are a deep ruby colour. They’ve been prominently grown in the Okanagan for a really long time. They’re not as sweet as their counterparts, but that’s why some people enjoy them so much.

Another popular Kelowna fruit is strawberries. For a little peek into the wonderful world of strawberries, read our previous post: Local Food Stores Feature: BC Grown Summer Strawberries.

If you’re looking for local grocery stores that stock up on fresh B.C. cherries and strawberries, come and check out Mike’s Produce. We’ve been proudly providing Kelowna residents and visitors with fresh, in-season Okanagan grown produce for 25 years.