Types of Cherries: Amazing Varieties of Sweet and Tart (Sour) Cherries

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Types of Cherries: Varieties of Sweet, Sour and Tart Cherries
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Cherries are a type of summer fruit that come in delicious sweet, sour, and tart varieties. Sweet cherries have red, dark crimson, or yellow color and can be eaten straight of the tree as a snack or used in desserts. Varieties of tart cherries are usually too sour to be eaten fresh and are a great ingredient for cherry pie.

Some of the most popular types of sweet cherries are dark red Bing cherries, black Chelan cherries, and Lapins sweet dark cherries. The main types of sour cherries are the Montmorency cherry and Morello cherry. Apart from red or dark red kinds of cherries, other types of sweet cherries have yellow skin with light red blushing and yellow flesh.

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There are over one hundred different types of cherries available. Cherries are generally classified based on their sweetness or tartness.

In this article, you will learn about the different types of cherries. You will find out about their characteristics, flavor, sweetness/tartness, and ripening times.

Tart Cherry vs. Sweet Cherry

Both sweet cherries (Prunus avium) and tart cherries (Prunus cerasus) are nutrient-rich pitted fruits that are good for you. The main difference between tart cherries and sweet cherries is their levels of acidity and sugar.

Tart or sour cherries are the better type of cherry to use in cooking. This is due to the fact that their juicy and light acidic taste is perfect for many recipes.

So, while sweet cherries are the kinds of cherries to eat fresh, you can use tart cherries to make jams, fruit pies, preserves, or juice.

However, there are more differences between sweet cherries and sour cherries than just their taste. Although all cherry varieties are rich in antioxidants, scientific studies have shown that tart cherries contain more of these healthy compounds. (1)

Due to their many health benefits, many people use tart cherries to address a number of health issues.

Learn more about the many health benefits of consuming tart cherry juice.

Types of Sweet Cherries

Let’s look in more detail at the many different types of sweet cherries that are delicious to consume fresh.

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Bing Cherries

Bing cherries

Bing cherries are a sweet type of cherries

One of the most common types of cherry is the Bing cherry (Prunus avium ‘Bing’) with its deep red skin and wonderfully sweet taste.

It is easy to see why so many people enjoy consuming fresh sweet Bing cherries. They are a large kind of dark cherry that have a round heart shaped. Shiny dark red skin surrounds their firm flesh. As this type of cherry ripens, it gradually becomes sweeter and develops a deeper color.

Bing cherry trees grow best in hot, sunny, dry climates. Due to their relatively early harvest, you can usually expect to see this sweet cherry variety early in the season.

Similar to varieties of tart cherries, Bing cherries are very good for you because they are packed with health-boosting antioxidants. For example, some studies have shown that consuming sweet Bing cherries can help reduce inflammation in men and women. (2)

Rainier Cherries

rainier cherries

Rainier cherries are a sweet yellow type of cherries

If you are looking for a deliciously sweet yellow type of cherry, then Rainier cherries are one of the best choices.

Due to its high-quality, many people list this yellow-red colored cherry as a premium cherry variety. The thin yellowish skin covers sweet creamy flesh that is also yellow. As the cherries ripen near the middle of summer, the skin starts to develop hints of red on it. When it is fully ripened, Rainier cherries have a two-toned look in varying shades of red and yellow.

Many consider this type of cherry to be among the best of the Washington cherries. This cherry cultivar is a cross between Bing cherries and Van cherries and is named after Mount Rainier in Washington State.

Although this cherry type is on the list of sweet cherries, it still has a slightly tart taste that many people find refreshing.

Tulare Cherries

Another type of sweet cherry is the Tulare cherry which has a dark red color similar to Bing cherries.

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Tulare cherry trees produce juicy red cherries that have a firm flesh that is slightly softer than the Bing varieties. One of the differences between Tulare cherries and Bing cherries is that they have a tangy aftertaste. This means that Tulare cherries are a versatile kind of cherry as they go just as well in sweet dishes as in savory dishes.

You can expect to find fresh ripe Tulare cherries in stores just after Bing cherries appear.

Lambert Cherries

Lambert cherries are another type of red sweet cherry that is one of the larger cherry varieties.

This popular variety of large cherry has red to crimson skin and flesh of the same color. Depending on its ripeness, some types of these cherries can develop very dark, almost black skin. They are juicy and sweet and make a delicious summer treat. Similar to Bing cherries, Lambert cherries also have a round heart shape.

Because their firm flesh holds up well in baking, sweet Lambert cherries are good for cooking with. You can combine them with tart cherries to add sweetness to cherry pies.

Coral Cherries

Coral cherries are a tasty type of pink cherry, and Coral cherry trees produce an abundance of fruit in the summer.

This type of large firm cherry fruit has a bright pink-red skin that covers vibrant pink flesh. Biting into these juicy cherries reveals abundant sweetness with virtually no traces of acidity.

If you are looking to buy one of the tastiest sweetest cherries, then Coral cherries may be among the first ones you will find. Generally, ‘Corals’ ripen 10 days before large Bing cherries. Although they look different from Bing cherries, their sweetness is comparable to the Bing varieties.

This type of sweet cherry grows well in warm climates and needs plenty of water throughout the growing season. Lambert cherries are usually available from midsummer until the start of August.

Lapins Cherries

Lapins cherries are a large sweet red type of fleshy stone fruit that turn dark crimson red as they ripen.

One of the characteristics of Lapins cherries is that they are very sweet when they are still bright red. Usually, most kinds of sweet cherries can still be fairly tart as they ripen and their sweetness intensifies as the skin darkens. When they are fully ripe in July (about two weeks after Bing cherries), their skin is almost a dark purplish color.

Lapins cherry trees produce high-quality sweet fruit. The large red fruit can sometimes grow as big as 1 inch across! One of the reasons why Lapins cherries are a popular type of cherry to grow is that they are fairly hardy. Unlike Bing cultivars, Lapins are quite crack resistant and are not prone to disease.

The Lapins cherries are a cultivar developed from crossing Stella cherries and Van cherries.

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Royal Ann Cherry

royal ann cherries

Royal Ann cherry is a type of cherry with a similar appearance and taste to Rainier cherries

Royal Ann is a yellow cherry variety that has a sweet-sour flavor and is a delicious and juicy cherry to eat fresh.

In many ways, Royal Ann cherries are similar in appearance and taste to Rainier cherries. They have yellow skin that develops red blushing on it. Some types of these cherry fruits also ripen to a light pink color.

This type of cherry is also quite versatile due to its firm flesh and mildly tart taste. The sweet-tart flavor makes this a good type of cherry to eat fresh or use for preserves or canning.

If you are thinking of planting Royal Ann cherry trees in your garden, they grow best in a temperate climate. You should make sure that they get full sun and that the soil drains well.

Chelan Cherry

Cherries from the Chelan cherry tree are on the list of “black sweet cherries” that ripen early.

This variety of cherry is one of the varieties of “Washington” cherries that has become popular to grow in other countries. Although this type of cherry is red as it grows, when it is fully ripe, its skin is a very dark red color. This sweet cherry fruit also ripens nearly 2 weeks before Bing cherries are ready. When compared to Bing cherries, Chelans aren’t quite as sweet.

One of the tasty features of Chelan cherries is that they have a very robust taste. The large fruit has firm juicy flesh that is covered by a deep red-purple skin. Because this is a hardy type of cherry, they have a longer shelf life than some other cherry varieties.

Skeena Cherries

Skeena cherry trees are a type of cherry cultivar originating in Canada and they produce large bright crimson or mahogany-colored fruits.

Compared to other types of cherries such as Bing and Chelans, Skeena cherries arrive late in the season. The dark red cherry fruits are usually ripe for harvesting about 2 weeks after Bing cherries. However, they are very sweet and large compared to other kinds of cherries.

Skeena cherries have firm dark red flesh that is quite juicy when you bite into it.

Sweetheart Cherries

Another of the bright red types of cherries originating from Canada is the Sweetheart cherry.

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As with other Canadian cherry cultivars, the Sweetheart cherry ripens late in the season. In fact, the harvest is about 3 weeks after Bings are ripe. Sweetheart is a good description of this cherry as it is among the sweet varieties and is shaped like a heart. The pitted fruits have a firm texture and they also have a good shelf life.

This means that, very often, you can still buy Sweetheart cherries in stores after other cherries have finished.

Van Cherries

Originating from Canada, the Van cherry tree is a hardy fruit tree that produces an abundance of medium-sized cherries.

Cherries that grow on Van cherry trees develop a dark, almost black skin as they ripen in the middle of summer. Their flesh is somewhat sweet, although not as sweet as some of the other sweet cherries on this list.

Utah Giant Cherries

If you are looking for a large sweet, tasty type of cherry, then the Utah Giant variety is an excellent choice.

Although not as popular as the Bing variety, Utah Giant cherries have a deliciously sweet taste when you bite into the firm flesh. In fact, compared to Bing cherries, Utah Giants are both bigger and sweeter. Bright crimsons skin covers the sweet juicy dark red flesh.

Stella Cherries

Stella cherries are a large, heart-shaped red type of sweet cherry that taste delicious.

This hardy variety of cherry has also been used to produce a number of other sweet cherry cultivars, most notably Chelan cherries. Many gardeners plant Stella cherry trees because they produce an abundance of high-quality fruit.

Stella cherries ripen around about the same time as Bing cherries.

Types of Sour (Tart) Cherries

Sour cherries (Prunus cerasus) are sometimes called dwarf cherries or tart cherries due to their smaller size and acidic taste. However, the tart taste of these kinds of cherries makes them perfect for using in recipes.

Usually, the sharp taste of sour cherries means that very few people eat these varieties as fresh cherries.

Montmorency Cherry

Montmorency cherries

Montmorency cherry is the most popular type of sour cherry

The Montmorency cherry is the most popular sour cherry variety. This small fruit has a very tart taste and is a type of tart cherry from the Amarelle cultivar.

Most Montmorency cherry trees produce a lot of bright red sour cherries. Some cultivars of this variety of cherry also have red-colored fruit that is somewhat darker in color.

Being the most popular type of sour cherry, these cherries are usually the main ingredient for pies. Montmorency cherries are also a popular ingredient to use for making preserves and jams.

Due to the many health benefits of sour cherries such as Montmorency, you can also buy dried cherries and tart cherry juice.

In fact, studies have shown that this type of sour cherry contains strong anti-inflammatory properties and antioxidants. Some of the compounds in sour cherries are melatonin and anthocyanins. (3)

This means that, as well as helping to treat gout, drinking sour cherry juice may help you sleep better.

Morello Cherry

morello cherries

Morello cherry is a type of sour cherry suitable for making baked items

The Morello cherry is a dark-red type of sour cherry that has dark crimson to almost black skin.

Morello cherries are sometimes called Northern Kriek or Schattenmorello. Visually, it can be difficult to tell sour Morello cherries apart from their sweeter cousins. However, biting into this sour cherry will probably make your face pucker up due to its tartness.

As with all kinds of cherries, Morellos become sweeter as they ripen. However, due to their sourness, it is usually possible only to eat fresh Morello cherries when they have fully ripened.

You can use tart cherries such as Morellos to make cherry juice, cherry pies, or other baked items. Sprinkling a few sour cherries in among other sweet fruits can add a unique tanginess to a fruit salad.

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