Which U.S. State Produces The Most Cherries?

We're thinking of a state. It's a state known for its natural, four-season beauty, its rich history, its vibrant cities, and intimate college towns, its hub of industry that defined the 20th century, its music, art, and culture, and its abundance of lakes and access to coastal dunes and untouched shorelines — among other things (per PlanetWare).

Then there is the food. Food lovers are smitten with this distinctively shaped state for its go-to eats, including thick, rectangular-shaped pizza; a destination deli, coffee roaster, bakery, and creamery, all under one roof; crispy, meat- and vegetable-filled hand pies; double-baked rye bread sliced thick to hold up corned beef and other sandwich fixings; and your choice of iconic desserts, including cream puffs filled with ice cream and bathed in hot fudge and delectable doughnuts filled with jam and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Thirsty? Wash everything down with a spice-infused float made with local ginger ale or perhaps your choice of beer from independent breweries (per Food Network).

And when it comes to agriculture, this state is a powerhouse. Its bounty includes asparagus, apples, blueberries, carrots, and cabbage — with cherries on top.

Michigan is home to 'America's Superfruit'

In Michigan, life truly is just a bowl of cherries: An estimated 70% of the country's tart cherries are grown in the state. In 2018, the Great Lakes State produced some 201 million pounds of tart cherries — that's a lot of lip-smacking tart cherry juice, canned cherries, and dried cherries. Translated to dollars, that's $280.1 million worth of tart cherries (per the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development).

Traverse City, in the northwest lower peninsula of Michigan, is home to the "ultimate celebration of cherries,” the National Cherry Festival. The event, held each July — when cherries are ripe for the picking — includes events for families and food lovers. Take home a cherry crumb pie or a bottle of cherry wine.

While all varieties of cherries have their week in the sun, Montmorency tart cherries might well steal some of the spotlight. These cherries, noted for their smallish size and brilliant red color, are "different from the rest of the bunch,” according to the Cherry Marketing Institute. Research has suggested that the potent antioxidants found in Montmorency cherries can decrease symptoms of gout and arthritis, help us sleep better, play a role in exercise recovery, and improve gut health and heart function (per Food Network). No wonder they've been dubbed "America's Superfruit” and "The Cherry with More.”

Tart cherries are prominent throughout the state

An impressive 2/3 of the Montmorency tart cherries grown in the United States come from the "Cherry Capital of the World,” but states other than mitten-shaped Michigan have success growing them, too, including New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, Wisconsin, and Utah (per the Cherry Marketing Institute). If you don't live in one of the growing districts and have access to tart cherries when they're fresh and in season, you can readily find them frozen, dried, and in the form of juice and juice concentrate at supermarkets and big-box stores.

Cherries are big business in Michigan, and Cherry Republic, a retailer with multiple locations throughout the state, offers them just about every way imaginable: jams, jellies, barbecue sauces, hot sauces, salsas, snacks, and, of course, with chocolate on top (per the company's website). If you're crazy for cherries and like hands-on kitchen projects, Traverse, North Michigan's Magazine, has a recipe for a cherry pie that's abundant in cherry goodness (per MyNorth). It calls for frozen sweet cherries, frozen tart cherries, and dried cherries — plus cherry concentrate and a splash of cherry brandy. Need an excuse to make it? February is National Cherry Month.