Here’s Every Type of Cherry and How to Use It
Wondering which types of cherries are best for pie and which are better for salads and salsas? We've got the answers.
Cherries are one of the first stone fruits to pop up in the summertime. Although they’re often simply labeled “cherries” at the grocery store, more than 1,000 varieties are grown in the United States! Each type has a unique sweet or tart flavor, making some better for snacking and others well-suited for pie and other sweet treats.
Psst: Here’s how to buy and store cherries like a pro.
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When you picture a cherry in your mind, it’s probably a Bing cherry. These red, heart-shaped fruits are juicy and sweet with a touch of acidity, giving them a light tartness that makes them perfectly balanced. They’re great for snacking, and their sweet flavor makes them ideal for simple dessert dishes like a cherry bounce served over vanilla ice cream.
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As the name indicates, these cherries have a darker skin than most cherry varieties. Black cherry trees are related to the chokecherry, but they’re significantly taller and the fruit is much sweeter. The cherries turn from red to dark purple and almost black as they ripen, and they taste great in raw applications like flavored yogurt or baked goods like black forest panettone pudding.
These light red, sour cherries are almost exclusively grown in Michigan, making them a popular choice in the Midwest. Their extremely tart flavor makes them less-than-ideal for snacking but perfect for baking. Combine them with sugar for a stellar cherry pie or use them to make a well-balanced jam.
Here’s how to pit cherries, even without a cherry pitter.
Morello cherries refer to a family of sour cherries that have become popular for their use in pies and other baked goods. Like Montmorency cherries, Morello cherries are very tart and are far too sour for most to enjoy raw. Use them in your favorite sweet-tart recipe (here are a few cherry recipes to get started).
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These cherries were developed in Washington state in 1952 and named after the state’s largest mountain, Mt. Rainier. They’re pink with a lovely golden-yellow hue and a sweet, almost candied flavor. Cooking these cherries destroys their gorgeous color, so it’s best to enjoy them fresh in salads or on oatmeal.
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Maraschino cherries aren’t technically a type of cherry but describe a method of preservation. They were originally made by soaking sour mascara cherries in maraschino liqueur (distilled from the same cherries). Today, they’re made with several different varieties of sweet and sour cherries and are usually preserved in syrup instead of alcohol. They taste more like candy than cherries, but they’re great for garnishing cocktails, like a brandy old-fashioned, and milkshakes, as well as baked goods and sweet desserts.