They are incredibly beautiful, sweet and juicy and they’re only available mid-June to mid-August. They are: Rainier cherries.

Named after Mount Rainier, the Rainier cherry was developed by Harold Fogle in Washington State back in 1952. Fogle crossed Bing and Van – two red cherry varieties – and ended up with a golden yellow cherry with a red blush on the outside, a golden yellow inside and an amazing sweetness.

Rainiers have a thin, delicate skin which presents a number of challenges in getting them harvested, packed and onto grocery store shelves. They are highly susceptible to bruising and are sensitive to hot weather and strong winds. Because of this, growers use windscreens to protect the fruit and they also put nets over the fruit to keep birds out of the orchard.

Seems like a big job, but it’s hard to beat a Rainier cherry. The sugar, or brix, levels on Rainiers are higher than any dark-sweet cherry variety – ranging from 17 to 23 percent – hence the name “nature’s candy.” Serve these for dessert or in a salad and celebrate the sweet tastes of summer!

Slow-cooked cherry cobbler

Serves 10

All you need:

1 cup flour

3 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

1 egg

1/4 cup 1 percent milk

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 cups pitted Rainier cherries

1 (16 oz.) bag frozen berry blend

3/4 cup sugar

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup oats

1/8 teaspoon salt

Vanilla frozen yogurt and fresh Rainier cherries, for serving, if desired

All you do:

1. In a small bowl, combine 1 cup flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder and cinnamon.

2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg. Add milk and canola oil and stir to combine.

3. Pour dry ingredients into the egg/milk mixture and stir to combine.

4. Spray a 5-quart slow cooker with cooking spray and spread the batter evenly onto the bottom.

5. In a medium bowl, place 3/4 cup sugar, 1/4 cup flour, oats and salt. Add fresh cherries and frozen berry blend and stir well to make sure all the fruit is coated.

6. Pour the cherry/berry mixture into the slow cooker (over the batter).

7. Cover the pot and cook on HIGH for 2-1/2 hours, or until the batter is cooked through. Top with a scoop of vanilla frozen yogurt and more fresh Rainier cherries, if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving (without toppings): Calories 195, Total fat 4g, Saturated fat 0g, Sodium 38mg, Carbohydrate 38g, Fiber 2g, Protein 3g

Source: Hy-Vee dietitians

Tracey Shaffer, RD, LD, is a Hy-Vee dietitian at the Blue Springs location The information provided should not be construed as professional medical advice. Email her at