The only thing we here at FruitStand like better than eating fruit (and talking about fruit… and dreaming about fruit…) is learning about fruit!
And getting to share all those cool things we learn about fruit with the world? That’s just the cherry on top.
So good thing there’s so much to know about different types of cherries.
Our love affair with cherries goes back thousands of years, with the fruit showing up as far back as the Bronze Age in merry old England.
We’re not sure if the ancient British Baking Show was more team cherry cobbler or team cherry pie – but we’re pretty sure they were happy just to be in the game, with few other fruits growing that far from the equator.
Cherries are one of the rare fruits indigenous to more temperate regions – including most of Europe, as well as parts of North America, Northern Africa and Asia – making their sweet bite a rare and coveted treat in those areas, especially in the days before international shipping.
And while their prominence in inside-weather regions may have cemented the cherry’s role in so many comfort foods (Er, comfort pastries?) – their versatility also lends to the stone fruit’s star power, with cherries making equally-tasty juices or just plain old snacks.
In fact, cherries are officially categorized into two broad groups, based, in part, on their varying culinary uses – and with more than 1,000 cultivars grown overall, their possibilities are nearly endless.
So as you peruse this list, we hope you don’t mind if we cherry picked the most popular types of cherries to talk about.
Also known as “mazzard” or, for some unknown but nonetheless delightful reason, “gean” cherries, this branch of the cherry family tree originates mainly in North America and Europe.
As their name may suggest, sweet cherries are known for their sugary pop of flavor, making them the perfect option for juicing or simply snacking on.
So the next time you’re pining for a luxurious bowl of stone fruit to pick on (or sip on!) before (or after!) dinner, you may want to reach for one of these varieties:
Bing Cherries: Possibly the most popular type of cherry, Bings are also widely believed to be one of the most delicious types of cherries, with a particularly sweet and juicy bite coming from flesh that can range anywhere from deep red to rich purple when ripe. Bings are so important to the cherry world, some farms are known to use the cultivar as a synonym for cherries themselves, counting down the days left “before Bings,” as opposed to before the start of cherry season.
Rainier Cherries: Named for the tallest peak in Washington State, these cherries represent the pinnacle. Looking more like mini apples than the large cherries they are, Rainiers are a beautiful golden tone with just a kiss of blush – and deliver a taste that rounds out the sweetness with just enough tart.
Hedelfingen Sweet Cherry: Meanwhile, in Europe, this German variety of sweet cherry often steals the show. Their deep, rich sweetness makes them popular in dessert dishes there, while their striking deep red color and glossy skin make them a favorite among fruit photographers. And, we’d wager, their name makes them a top choice among spelling bee judges everywhere.
Tulare Cherries: For those who like their sweet on the edge of sour, these cherries offer the best of both worlds. The resulting taste is probably best described as tangy, with Tulare cherries delivering it in a perfect-looking dark red, heart-shaped fruit—making them, not exactly sweethearts, but lovable nonetheless.
Black Cherries: By far the most brooding and mysterious of the sweet cherries, this cultivar is noted for its deep purple color – which, when fully ripe, can verge on black. But don’t be intimidated, black cherries are here to help! Their deep, dark flesh is actually full of antioxidants, making them one of the healthiest types of cherries.
These types of cherries are probably better enjoyed by someone with a little extra time on their hands – plus some flour, sugar, eggs, and maybe a stand mixer.
While their namesake tartness doesn’t exactly make them the optimal snack (unless you’re feeling particularly bitter), sour cherries are especially noted for their role in the kitchen, showing up in everything from pies and cobblers to sauces and jams.
That’s thanks in part to their firmer flesh, which not only preserves their rich flavor in any dish but holds up better to the trials of cooking, refusing to go soggy.
If you’re re-watching the Great British Baking Show (It never gets old!) and feeling inspired, you might want to grab one of these varieties for your next recipe:
Montmorency: If its French name (after a valley in the country where it likes to grow) wasn’t enough of a hint, this cherry varietal is particularly good in the kitchen. Montmorency cherries are arguably the best type of cherries for pie, thanks to their eye-catching bright red skin, and tongue-pleasing mild tart flavor, which mixes well with all the sweet sugar used in such confections.
Early Richmond: If you’d rather turn your cherries into jam, jelly or preservative, the Early Richmond has long been a popular choice for such recipes. The sour varietal may taste tart but its pop of red skin really brightens things up.
English Morello: Rocking a reddish-black skin, this large sour cherry may look intimidating. But in this case, its tart is worse than its bite, with the Morello registering a more mild flavor than most of its sour cousins. It’s juiciness also makes it a popular choice for pies.
Still, whether you’re more interested in baking, snaking – or even taking photos – we think any of these varieties would be a cherry choice to have in your fridge.