Now that summer has arrived, it’s time for some deliciously sweet cherries! They’re being picked, packed, and stocked at your local markets and grocery stores as we speak. But when you see cherries sitting on the shelves, chances are you don’t realize the effort it’s taken to get them there (unless you’re in the industry).
Cherries are delicate and don’t last as long as your typical fruit, which means they need to be picked quickly and using the right methods. We offer bins and totes that assist in multiple steps of the process and work to keep things moving. Our plastic containers (made with polypropylene) have soft walls that serve to better protect produce than traditional wood bins.
Farmers have to wait for the right time to pick cherries. Too early and the cherries won’t be very sweet. Too late and the cherries won’t last. The window in which to pick is a quick one so it’s important to be swift during the harvest. To help with this, straps can be added to our MacroTote 9-FV for easy on-person storage as pickers remove cherries. When the totes are full, the cherries can either be dumped into a MacroBin, or the tote can be placed directly into the bin.
The MacroTotes are complementary to the MacroBins with the totes nesting efficiently within the bins. Some varieties, like the Rainier cherry, have particularly fragile skins that require sensitive handling. In this case, storing the totes in the containers would be recommended.
To help the cherries last, the filled bins are sent through an on-site mobile hydrocooler or immediately loaded onto a refrigerated truck in order to bring down the pulp temperature. Once on the truck, the cherries are taken to a packing facility where the bins are offloaded and placed in cold storage (or sent through a hydrocooler if there wasn’t one onsite at the farm).
Because of the time sensitivity of cherries, it won’t be long before the cherries are taken out of cold storage and brought to the cherry line. The bins are partially submerged in water and then tilted to unload all of its contents. From there, the cherries are sorted by size and appearance as well as measured for their sweetness and firmness. Once all the cherries have been sorted and measured, they’re packed up and shipped out to stores!
Most of the cherries you’ll end up leaving the grocery store with were picked only a couple days prior. This is thanks to the large labor force that works hard to deliver ripe cherries to consumers in a timely manner.