Cherries are one of those fruits that are ubiquitous with summer. The first crops appear at the end of June and you know that you can soon experience the joy of biting into fresh, sweet, and juicy cherries.
There are many types of cherries, ranging from sweet to sour, so before you bite into just any old cherry, consult our guide so you know what you’re getting into.
How many types of cherries are there?
There are over 1,200 types of cherries around the world. This may be surprising as when you shop at a grocery store there is usually only one variety for sale.
However, the types of cherries really range in taste and quality. There are sweet cherries and there are sour cherries.
While many people assume the United States is the leading producer of cherries, that distinction actually goes to Turkey. Iran and Spain also grow a lot of cherries.
Different Types of Cherries
You might mistake yellow cherries for being unripe but in reality, they are ready to eat. Usually yellow cherries have a mottled pink color to them.
Yellow cherries are often sweet although not as sweet as deep red cherries. Because of their color, it is easier to see if there are bruises to the flesh.
Despite their red coloring, sour cherries are well, sour. They are bright red in color and if you aren’t familiar with specific varieties, you might be in for quite the surprise.
Sour cherries are often used for pie baking. Their sour taste allows you to be in charge of how much sugar is added, making your dessert as sweet as you prefer.
Sweet cherries are dark red in color that can look almost purple or mahogany in color. They get darker as they ripen and are often quite plump when ready.
Sweet cherries are best if you want a sweet, fresh snack fresh from the tree.
Cherry Types and Their Origin
Santina cherries have a flattened shape to them so that they become almost heart-shaped. They are sweet and juicy.
Farmers love Santina cherries for many reasons. They are high-yielding and don’t crack easily. This is beneficial as one of the weaknesses of cherries is that when exposed to a lot of rain, their skins will crack open, thus ruining the crop.
As you might have guessed, Rainier cherries are named after the region they grow in, Mount Rainier in Washington State. They are red with a yellowish tint to them, although still quite sweet.
You can eat Rainier cherries right from the tree. They also are quite tasty in salads, especially when paired with a saltier taste.
Bing cherries are perhaps the most popular of them all. They are a deep purple color and the darker they are, the riper they are.
These cherries are particularly sweet and are excellent when eaten fresh from the tree. Bing cherries have a lot of nutritional benefits, including lowering blood pressure and lessening the chance of cardiovascular disease.
Montmorency cherries have a deep purple color but are anything but sweet. Instead, they are extremely sour.
These cherries are often preserved, either in frozen, canned, or dried form. They can then be enjoyed year-long.
Popular uses for Montmorency cherries include using them in smoothies, mixing them in trail mixes, or even using them to bake.
Grown in British Columbia, Canada, Lapins cherries were designed to be the ideal fruit. Not only are they self-fertile, but their pollen can help grow other varieties of cherries.
Lapins cherries turn red when they are ripe and are quite sweet. They can be eaten freshly picked or preserved for later use.
Queen (Royal) Anne Cherries
The thing about Queen (Royal) Anne cherries is that they are a master of disguise. From the outside they are yellow and red, looking quite similar to Rainier. However, instead of sweet tasting, they are actually really bitter.
Queen (Royal) Anne cherries are used for a very specific purpose. They are heavily sweetened and are transformed into maraschino cherries.
Not only are Van cherries delicious to eat but their flower blossoms are quite a sight to behold. When these cherry trees start to blossom, they produce an abundance of delicate-looking flowers.
Van cherries are quite hardy and they closely resemble Bing cherries. They are a dark red in color and are quite plump.
Van cherries are great eaten fresh thanks to their sweetness. If you were planning on making cherry ice cream, this is the variety you would use.
The most important thing to note about Chelan cherries is their spelling. Chile does produce a lot of varieties of cherries, but in this case, Chelan cherries actually come from Washington state.
Chelan cherries arrive early in the season and are some of the first to be found. They are a deep red color, almost mahogany, and are large in size.
While Chelan cherries are sweet, they are on the milder side. This makes them a nice alternative if you want a sweet, but not too sweet, cherry.
Selah cherries are sweet in flavor. They are a nice, rich red color and have a large, plump shape to them.
Because they are so sweet, Selah cherries are great for eating fresh. Their juiciness can be used in concoctions such as smoothies but you wouldn’t want to bake with them.
With a deep red color, Benton cherries are a nice variety if you just can’t wait for cherry season to start. They arrive early in the growing season but are still nice and sweet.
You can eat Benton cherries right from the tree. Farmers like this variety for its hardiness and resistance to cracking from moisture.
Sweetheart cherries have a lovely, bright red color to them. They are medium-sized and nice and sweet.
These cherries produce a high yield which is great for farmers. Sweetheart cherries are versatile and have actually been used to create new varieties of cherries.
While Lambert cherries have existed for centuries, they are actually now hard to come by. These cherries are deep red in color and quite plump and juicy.
Lambert cherries are some of the best to eat right off the tree. Their flesh is quite firm but when you bite into them, you will receive quite the burst of juice.
If you want to make the best-tasting cherry pie, then Morello cherries are a must. They are red in color and medium-sized.
Morello cherries have the right texture for pies. However, they aren’t sweet so you will need to add quite a bit of sugar to bring out their whole potential.
If you love cherries and don’t want the season to end, then you will love Skeena cherries. This variety grows later in the season but still produces luscious fruit.
Skeena cherries are sweet in taste and large in size. They have a deep red skin and the flesh is a reddish black color.
Tieton cherries are quite large and become very plump when ready. They have a dark red, almost brownish color that develops as they ripen.
While Tieton cherries are sweet, they are not overly so, making them good for baking. They don’t have a very high yield while growing so they aren’t as popular.
Stardust cherries are a rich yellow and red cherry. The red speckles on the golden yellow background make them quite pretty to see.
Nice and sweet, Stardust cherries are perfect to eat right off the tree. They can be used in some baking because they aren’t as juicy as other varieties.
Relatively new to the scene, Tulare cherries weren’t developed until the 1980s. Since then, they have become a hit thanks to their juiciness and sweetness.
Tulare cherries are great when eaten fresh. They are also versatile enough to be used in some baking, as well as being paired with more savory dishes.
What are the best cherries to eat?
Overall, you can’t go wrong with Bing cherries. They are large, super sweet, and packed with juice. Bing cherries are also readily available in the summer.
What kind of cherries are the sweetest?
There are a few types of cherries that are considered the sweetest. Bing, Chelan, and Lapins cherries are the top three.
Other cherries you could really sink your teeth into include Rainier and Tulare varieties.
What is the healthiest cherry?
While all cherries are rich in vitamin C, there are some varieties that are a bit healthier than others. Of all the types, Montmorency cherries seem to come out on top.
They are rich in natural melatonin, which helps regulate sleep patterns. Montmorency cherries are also high in potassium, fiber, and beta carotene.
The only issue with Montmorency cherries is that they are rather tart tasting. Therefore, you will want to eat them in a dried form.
There are many different types of cherries in the world, ranging from sour and tart to rich and juicy.
You can find the perfect cherry for eating fresh from the tree, for baking, or for eating dried. Cherries are a delicious, healthy fruit that should be enjoyed on a hot summer’s day.