Pilgrim Orchards proudly grows several different varieties of cherries and peaches, and we hope that this page will help you decide which one is right for you. Please feel free to "taste test" your way through the orchard when you are here to pick; this way you can be sure to take home the fruit best suited to you.
We have seven different kinds of cherries, including the dark Bings, the yellow Rainiers, and the sour pie cherries, (Montmorency.) Here is a basic guide to our cherry selection.
We have five varieties of black cherries including the ever-popular Bings, as well as the Sams, Vans, Lapins, and Stellas. While our most requested variety are the Bings, we encourage people to try from various trees to see if they find something they like better. All of these varieties are dark and juicy, with the main variation being in size and slight differences in flavor. Our favorite uses for these are fresh eating and freezing. However, they also dry, can, and juice well, as well as making an excellent pie.
Rainier cherries are a favorite around our home. They are slightly sweeter than the black cherries and their coloring is more varied. While they often appear to be red, this is the result of a slight sunburn that they get during ripening. Uncovering an area that has not been exposed to the glare reveals a bright yellow skin. These cherries tend to be used less for preservation, and more for dominating a fruit bowl with their bright colors and lush flavor.
The Montmorency cherries that we grow in our orchard are not famous for their massive size or their massive sugar content, but more for the intense, tart flavor that makes them renowned with cherry lovers everywhere. These little gems, also known as pie cherries (for good reason), provide a truly incredible level of cherry flavor. This, when tempered with sugar, makes some of the best pies, toppings, jams and dried cherries around. These have a very short season, mostly because we have a small number of pie cherry trees and because they are in high demand. Be sure to get here early on the first day for the best picking conditions, and call before you come to ensure that we have some left if they are your primary goal.
At Pilgrim Orchards, we grow four different varieties of peaches. These are the New Haven, our newest and earliest variety; the Suncrest, an eating peach capable of growing to epic proportions; the Veteran, a sweet freestone that is especially popular with canners; and the Improved Elberta, a true classic that many regard as the ultimate canning peach.
Our New Haven peaches mainly serve as an "appetizer" for the main portion of our crop. We have approximately 125 New Haven trees, which is fewer than any other variety in the orchard. Ripening mid July, they offer our first taste of what the season has in store. They freeze well, taste amazing and are reasonably easy to work with.
We describe the Suncrest peach as the ultimate eating peach, and many of our regular customers seem to agree. It is characterized by its sweetness, juicyness, and the fact that, unlike most peaches, it travels well as long as it is properly cared for. While people whose primary goal is canning may choose another variety that peels and pits more easily, people who are more concerned about having juice running down their chin and a smile on their face seem to like it just fine.
The veteran variety provides the backbone of our home-canning operation, as well as that of many of our regular customers. It is a sweet, soft and juicy peach. Its most sought-after features, however, are based on how easy it is to work with. It peels easily when ripe, even right off the tree, and the pit is very easy to pry out. Its main drawback is the fact that it bruises easily.
This is one of the classic canning peaches. It is firm, a freestone, and peels easily. While it is not as sweet as some of our other varieties, many people use its powerful flavor in conjunction with a sweetener to create a peach product few varieties can rival.