Cherries grow on short trees with lower boughs at just the right height for picking. Cherries come in two main varieties, sweet and sour. Sweet cherries are ideal for snacks and fruit salads, and sour cherries make great tarts and pies. Picking your own cherries means you can select the juiciest, ripest fruit for your basket. New York state has dozens of pick-your-own farms, including several in the New York City area.
Go picking in June or July, the optimum months for ripe cherries, according to Pickyourown.org. The period between June 10 and 25 is the most active cherry-picking period in New York state. Some upstate farms allow picking only for a few weeks in July, as cherries often ripen later in northern regions.
Visit the New York section of the Pickyourown.org website. This site lists most of the farms and facilities that offer pick your own (PYO) fruit in the state.
Choose a location in New York from the list. Click the appropriate link. Scroll down to check farms in that area and make sure that they grow cherries.
Call the farm or check its website to ensure that it has cherries ready to pick. Some farms alternate their crops, get sudden runs on particular fruits, or leave plants untouched for a season.
Choose durable, lightweight clothes that you don't mind getting dirty. Bring a hat and sunglasses to shield yourself from the bright light. You'll be looking upward for much of the time, so sunglasses help protect your eyes. Pack a lunch, because many farms do not serve food.
Pick shiny, firm cherries and avoid any undersized fruits. Immature cherries will not continue to ripen after picking. Snap off the stem along with the cherry to keep the fruit fresh longer.
Purchase some jars with sealed lids so you can make cherry jam or stewed cherries from any surplus fruit when you get home.