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Types of Cherries {The EASY Need-to-Know Guide}

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Basic Types of Cherries

With over 1,000 different types of cherries in existence, there is a cherry out there for everyone’s taste buds. The most familiar types are maraschino, black, bing, and rainier cherries. The choke cherry, black stone cherry, morello, north star, napoleon, and Spanish cherry cherries are some of the less well known types.

Tart Cherry

Many of them come from the subgenus Cerasus and are cultivated in the Northern Hemisphere in at least twenty different countries. These tasty antioxidant fruits grow best in temperate climates, and their peak season is summer. The seeds of a cherry do require some cold to germinate, which is why they cannot grow in tropical weather. With all the types of cherry, it’s hard to know where to start.

Tart Cherry vs. Sweet Cherry

Unfortunately, not all the types are edible or as delicious as others. The most popular types of cherries are: maraschino, black, bing, and rainier cherries. You can find these cherries in supermarkets all across the western world. The following is a list of the more familiar types of cherries, along with some lesser known (but not obscure) ones: Here is a list of cherry types.

cherry

Cherry Categories

Most often, cherry types are divided into two categories: sweet (P. avium) and sour (P. cerasus). Sweet cherries are often eaten plain, while sour/tart cherries are used for cooking (adding flavor and the like). These two categories have different benefits.

Sweet Cherries

Dried Dark Sweet Cherries, 32oz Bag, Unsweetened, No Added Sugar, Sunrise Fresh Dried Fruit Co.

Sweet cherries are less physically healthy, providing both fiber and vitamin C but not in quantities as significant (to Daily Value) as with sour cherries. Sour cherries contain high percentages of vitamins A and C and beta carotene.

These types of cherries come from Western Asia and Eastern Europe, but they are now mostly popular in Northern America. The ancestors of most sweet cherries are in fact sour cherries. To this end, bing cherries are one of the most popular types of sweet cherries out there.

It’s indicated that you consume them raw and fresh, after you’ve made sure you picked the juicy fleshed ones, with shiny skin. A great indicator of their freshness is a bright green stem.

Acerola Cherry

Barbados Cherry Plant - Malpighia punicfolia - Acerola - Indoors/Out - 6" pot

The acerola cherry is reported to have a vitamin C content higher than any other fruit we know of. You can find this type of cherry growing in the Western Hemisphere and it’s also traded under the name West Indies cherry or Barbados cherry. Although not a true cherry, since the fruit itself resembles a berry more than anything else, acerola has been recognized as a potent aid with all sorts of ailments, including those related to the liver, dysentery, diarrhea, depression, fungal infections, colds and coughs. More recently, the medical industry has started considering introducing its vitamin C extract in daily supplements, but further research is still needed.7

The acerola cherry is highly perishable, so it’s recommended that you grow it on your own and freeze it as soon as you pick it. This is another reason why you mostly find this fruit in supplements, as powder, tincture, capsule and even in chewable form.

Bing Cherries

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Bing cherries and Rainier cherries are extremely well-known varieties, and the former is produced primarily in Michigan. Bing cherries are extremely popular especially since they have that classic heart shape that most cherries have and because the taste is very rich, sweet and tangy, with a juicy, yet firm interior. The Bing cherry obtained its name from a Manchurian Chinese immigrant, Ah Bing, and is now very popular in the United States. This type of cherry is a great source of iron, calcium, vitamin A and C, boron and potassium. Due to their delicious taste, they are an excellent addition to any dessert and can be paired well with vanilla, cream, marzipan, cinnamon, peaches, nutmeg and the list can go on. You can easily eat these cherries fresh, canned or frozen.

Rainier Cherries

10 Fresh Seeds of Rainier Sweet Cherry Yellow White Fruit Flesh Very Sweet Fruit Tree

The Rainier cherry is a special type of cherry, since it was developed at the Washington State University in 1952, by Harold Fogle, as a cross between the ‘Van’ and ‘Bing’ cultivars. This low-acid type of cherry has a creamy yellow to medium yellow-orange color, which is perfectly paired by its sweet, caramel-like taste. Most people eat them fresh, but they can also serve as a tasty ingredient in summer dessert dishes.

This cherry’s name comes from Washington State’s largest mountain, Mt. Rainier rising tall at 14,409 ft. The Rainier cherry is the only known cherry with a holiday of its own – celebrated on the 11th July of each year, just in time for the peak Rainier cherry crop in Washington State. Most cherry trees need two pollinators and Rainier cherry trees are typically planted between dark-sweet cherry trees in orchards in order to provide this alternate source of pollen.

Queen (Royal) Anne Cherries

Queen Anne cherries on the tree
Queen Anne cherries on the tree ready to be picked

This type of cherry has a number of names. Sometimes called Royal Ann, Royal Anne, Queen Anne or Napoleon, this cherry is a yellow to light-pink skinned cherry that ripens in early December, with a sweet and tangy taste that is unmistakable among cherries. Its country of origin is Germany and it’s not a self-fertile type of cherry tree. These cherries are excellent for consuming raw.

Because they are firm and fleshy, they’re often the type of cherry you’ll get in a can, and are sometimes considered pie cherries because of their popularity in desserts, along with in jam or sauces.

Lapins Cherry

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The Lapins cherry is a type of cherry that was developed in British Columbia, as a cross between the Van and Stella cultivars. This type of tree is self-fertile and also a great pollen source for other cherry varieties. The Lapins cherry is seen as a high-quality type of cherry – it turns deep red before it is ready to pick and is sweet while still red. This type of cherry is highly versatile and can be eaten raw, juiced, dried, preserved or cooked, while also making great pairings with smoked meats, cheeses, pistachios, ginger, dark chocolate and so on.

Morello Cherry

Morello cherries are of the sour variety and although they can also be consumed raw, mostly when they are perfectly ripe, they are mostly used in desserts, pies, drinks and other recipes. These dark red cherries are more popular in Europe and their red-blood juice is often a great ingredient for cocktails.

Eden Organic Dried Montmorency Cherries out of bag
Eden Organic Dried Montmorency Cherries out of bag

Montmorency Cherries

Country Spoon No Sugar Added Dried Tart Montmorency Cherries, 1 pound

Montmorency cherries are popular in the midwest U.S. and fit into the sour category. The Montmorency tart cherry contains a healthy dose of melatonin, a natural sleep cycle regulator, as well as fiber, antioxidants, beta carotene and potassium. The Montmorency cherry is a great supporter of healthy joint and cardiovascular function, thanks to its anthocyanins composition.

Balaton Cherries

The Balaton cherry is a type of cherry that originated in Hungary, after which it started being grown commercially in the US in the 1980s.

Compared to the Montmorency cherry, which has light-colored flesh, the Balaton cherry has a rather darker, burgundy color and is sweeter, albeit tangy in taste. Just as the Montmorency cherry, the Balaton variety is also perishable and is especially prone to experiencing damage brought on by harsh winter conditions.

However, the Balaton cherry is pretty firm and can be harvested by hand without the stem, since the fruit naturally develops a special cell layer at the stem attachment, which acts as an organic sealer.

Black Cherries

Black Cherry Fruit Tree Seeds, 25 Seeds Per Packet, Non GMO Seeds

Black cherries are, as the name suggests, a much darker type of cherry (although it’s more of a deep-red/black color than pure black). They’re similar to chokecherries but they are taller, and the fruit is a lot sweeter. They’re popular as a pie filling or eaten raw alongside yogurt or, if you’re feeling less healthy, on top of ice cream sundaes.

Utah Giant Cherries

Developed from a Bing cherry, the Utah Giant cherry tree originated in Utah – unsurprisingly – in 1981, and produced a much larger cherry than other plants. The fruit and pulp are a deep red with a sweet taste – in Utah, it’s considered the best of the sweet cherries. As a sweet cherry it does contain less of the nutrients that a sour cherry would but they’re a delicious treat.

Chelan Cherries

Chelan cherries are another variant of Bing, and they share a lot of the same qualities – they look similar, taste just as juicy and are almost identical from a nutrition perspective. However, the tree has a number of benefits to make it popular with commercial growers – the fruit ripens two weeks earlier than Bing, it’s more resistant to cracking and fewer imperfect double cherries are produced.

Skeena Cherries

Skeena cherries originated in Canada around the year 2000, and was originally bred specifically for commercial purposes. However, it has a larger than average stone, is more acidic than many other cherries, and the fruits split easily, so they aren’t a hardy variety and they’re more susceptible to diseases like brown rot. It’s not very common, but the larger dark red fruits are sometimes popular because of their more acidic flavor which can work well in some recipes.

Maraschino Cherries

Tillen Farms Merry Maraschino Cherries, 72 Ounce

Maraschino cherries are among the most popular types of cherries across the globe, since they have been widely used as garnish for cocktails and desserts. These types of cherries get their name from the very process developed to preserve them. Sour marasca cherries from the Dalmatian Coast used to be soaked in maraschino liqueur, distilled from the flesh, stems, leaves and pits of the same cherries.

The Maraschino cherry has had a sinuous existence in the United States, since it was originally removed from the market during the Prohibition. Further on, in the 1920s, a new way to preserve these cherries was developed to not include alcohol, while also removing flavor and color. These were later on kept in sugar syrup and color was artificially added. However nowadays you can find completely organic Maraschino cherries in specialized food markets – their color is simply added with the help of beet or radish juice. What distinguishes these cherries, as you find them in the supermarkets, is their taste which resembles that of candy more than it does the taste of fresh fruit.

Due to their high sugar composition, Maraschino cherries are easy enough to store, as long as you prioritize a dark and cool location. Compared to the fresh cherry varieties, Maraschino cherries pack very little nutritional benefits and are to be avoided for regular consumption, since mass-produced brands may add unhealthy flavorings and colorings.

Tulare Cherries

Tulare cherries are close cousins of the Bing cherry, with a small point at the bottom of the fruit developing when ripe. They range from a bright to a darker red and have a firm texture, and they are a mix of sweet and tart in flavor. They’re a good source of vitamins A and C, and another good option for anthocyanins.

Lambert Cherries

Lambert cherries are really popular commercially because, unlike many other types of cherry tree, they don’t require perfect conditions to bear fruit. The cherries produced are bright red and heart-shaped, and extremely popular in North America. They’re crisp, sweet and very juicy, and are great for eating raw or for baking.

Napoleon Cherry

Cherrieeeeeeeeeeees!

The Napoleon cherry is a yellow-skinned cherry that ripens in early December, with a sweet and tangy taste that is unmistakable among cherries. Its country of origin is Germany and it’s not a self-fertile type of cherry tree. The Napoleon cherries are excellent for consuming raw.

Tieton Cherries

The Tieton type of cherry is a very aesthetically pleasing type of cherry that is large, plump and with a mouth-watering mahogany glossy finish. This is the type of cherry that ripens by the end of May and presents a mildly sweet taste. The Tieton cherry tree is vigorous, but does not yield a great quantity of fruit – it is recommended that it is planted with more than one type of pollinizer. You’ll find Tieton cherries displayed in most grocery stores due to their sweet flavor, large size, and glossiness, which make them appear enticing.

Lapins Cherries

The Lapins cherry is a type of cherry that was developed in British Columbia, as a cross between the Van and Stella cultivars. This type of tree is self-fertile and also a great pollen source for other cherry varieties. The Lapins cherry is seen as a high-quality type of cherry – it turns deep red before it is ready to pick and is sweet while still red. This type of cherry is highly versatile and can be eaten raw, juiced, dried, preserved or cooked, while also making great pairings with smoked meats, cheeses, pistachios, ginger, dark chocolate and so on.

Sweetheart Cherries

Sweetheart cherries are some of the easiest to grow at home, providing you live in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 7. They’re known for their sweet but mildly tart flavor and their almost impeccable heart shape. They’re a late bloomer, producing fruit around three weeks after many other trees, but because they’re self-pollinating you don’t need to plant another tree nearby for it to grow, something that many other cherry trees do require.

Stella Cherries

Stella cherries were developed in Canada as a hybrid of the Lambert cherry and a self-fertile seedling cultivated in Norwich, England. Stella cherries were the first variant to self-pollinate and be named, meaning they don’t need another cherry tree close by to blossom. The cherries ripen early in the year, and are dark red and slightly larger than average, very rich in flavor.

Acerola Cherries

The acerola cherry is reported to have a vitamin C content higher than any other fruit we know of. You can find this type of cherry growing in the Western Hemisphere and it’s also traded under the name West Indies cherry or Barbados cherry.

Although not a true cherry, since the fruit itself resembles a berry more than anything else, acerola has been recognized as a potent aid with all sorts of ailments, including those related to the liver, dysentery, diarrhea, depression, fungal infections, colds and coughs. More recently, the medical industry has started considering introducing its vitamin C extract in daily supplements, but further research is still needed.7

The acerola cherry is highly perishable, so it’s recommended that you grow it on your own and freeze it as soon as you pick it. This is another reason why you mostly find this fruit in supplements, as powder, tincture, capsule and even in chewable form.

Health Benefits of Cherries

Acerola Cherry

Research has been conducted to establish the amount of anthocyanins in cherries and their effects. So far, the studies suggest that cherries can have an effect on inflammation and pain. In one study, tart cherry powder combined with a high-fat diet, was fed to rats. These rats did not gain as much body weight as others. This suggests tart cherries could reduce weight gain, but further research is necessary on this topic.

Most recently, scientists have tested cherries’ effect on sufferers of gout. They found that individuals who eat cherries regularly had a 35-75% lower risk of experiencing an attack of gout, which causes joint inflammation that is incredibly painful. The lead researcher of this study urges sufferers not to give up on their gout medication, but to increase their cherry intake in combination with it.

The year following this study, the research team checked in with participants and found that those consuming cherry extract had a 45% decrease in attacks. The most significant change was for those eating raw cherries, who experienced a 75% drop. Simply amazing! For more information, read how cherries work to prevent gout.

Apart from this, cherries also play an integral part in the fight against diabetes and this is because their glycemic index is much lower than other fruits’. This means your insulin and blood sugar levels will not be severely impacted when consuming these fruits. Having said this, cherries also protect against diabetes and help manage this condition if you already suffer from it.

Cherries are also a favorite among athletes, since they tend to reduce the post-workout soreness. When consuming cherries, there is less wear and tear at a cellular level and muscles are much better supported in their recovery.

A Preview on Tart Cherry

These amazing fruits are also a powerhouse of antioxidants which will help fight free radicals in the body, which in turns protects against premature cellular aging. Apart from this, they are a natural source of the melatonin hormone which regulates the body’s sleep-wake cycles. So if you’re having trouble sleeping, you may want to try and increase your cherries intake before sleep.

Colon cancer may also be prevented when you include cherries in your diet. The dietary fiber it contains will help with weight issues that are usually a factor in developing seven types of cancer. Cherries also provide a great source of anthocyanins, which may enhance your memory.

Eden Organic Tart Cherry Juice in glass
Eden Organic Tart Cherry Juice in glass

FAQs

What is a cherry?

Cherries are a small fruit that grow on stalks. The fruit grows on Prunus plans, and is a drupe – a fruit with a stone. Cherries are sweet and tart, and are a highly nutritious food that contains various essential vitamins along with antioxidants.

How many types of cherries are there?

There is no official number for how many types of cherry there are, but over 1,000 variants are grown in the US alone. Each variant is slightly different in terms of how tart or sweet they are, their size, color and the time taken for the tree to bear fruit.

What is the healthiest cherry?

Undoubtedly, one of the healthiest cherries you can eat is the Montmorency variant. It’s a tart cherry that helps regular sleep cycles, supports a healthy cardiovascular system, improves joints and contains antioxidants and other key nutrients.
With over 1,000 variants of cherry there is no way of picking a definitive single best type, but the Montmorency is a safe bet that is easy to find in stores.

What kind of cherries are the sweetest?

Bing cherries are some of the sweetest and most popular cherries you can buy. They’re ideal for eating raw due to their rich, sweet flavor. However they’re versatile and suitable for baking too.
Maraschino cherries are also extremely sweet and almost candy-flavored, due to the process involved in making them, but if you want natural sweetness then Bing is the best option.

What are the best cherries to eat?

If you’re looking for the best flavor, most people prefer a sweet cherry variant like Bing. However, eating more sour cherry varieties like Montmorency is preferred if you want all the health benefits of cherries, as they are packed with the most nutrients.

As you can see, there is a wide variety of cherries available on the market for you to choose from and enjoy. Just pick the right ones for you and enjoy them as part of your new antioxidant-rich diet.

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