Cherry Varieties - From Bing to Rainier

  • 01 of 04

    So Many Cherries!

    Different Cherry Varieties
    Three Types of Cherries. Images

    Cherries come in more than sweet and sour! While that is the big divide, especially in determining how you're going to put those cherries to delicious use, each type has a few more variables than that. Discover more here and make the most of this cherry season!

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  • 02 of 04

    Red Cherries (Sour Cherries)

    Montmorency Cherries
    Sour Cherries. Deb Alperin/Getty Images

    Sour or "pie" cherries, including Montmorency (like those pictured here) and Morello varieties, are tart in flavor and bright red in color, hence the practice of calling them "red cherries."

    They are celebrated in the Great Lakes region of the Midwest—Michigan especially—where they are only available for a few short weeks. Sour cherries are common on the East Coast as well, but are scarce in the West. No matter where you find sour cherries, look for red unblemished cherries with...MORE their stems still attached.

    Sour cherries are best when baked. Pile them in a pie crust, top with sugar, and bake until tender and juicy, about an hour. Or bake up a Sour Cherry Cobbler.

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  • 03 of 04

    Black Cherries (Sweet Cherries)

    Bing Cherries
    Black Cherries. Laurent Rouvrais/Getty Images

    Slightly heart-shaped dark red sweet cherries are primarily grown on the West Coast. The "black" designation refers to the mahogany color of their flesh, only a few varieties have particularly dark skin. There are many varieties, the most well known of which is Bing, pictured above. Lambert, Chelan, Sweetheart, and Tulare are other names to look out for. They are wonderfully sweet - almost like candy - and super juicy, too.

    Black cherries are best eaten fresh and tend to turn to mealy...MORE mush when baked. Try them in this Fresh Black Cherry Tart where they are pitted and arranged on a pastry shell. I use Bing cherries to make Brandied Cherries with great success.

    Look for shiny, taut-skinned black cherries at the market.

    Note: Because there are so many varieties, the sweet cherry season starts in May and runs well into August. Learn more about sweet cherries with this quick Guide to Sweet Cherry Varieties.

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  • 04 of 04

    Pink & Yellow Cherries (Sweet Cherries)

    Pink and Yellow Cherries
    Rainier Cherries. Deb Perry/Getty Images

    Pink and yellow Rainier and Royal Ann cherries are lighter and less cloying than black cherries. They are mostly grown in the Pacific Northwest. Because of their light color, Rainier cherries (pictured here) show their bruises - which is most useful when you're the customer. Choose unblemished, shiny cherries.

    These sweet cherries are perfect for snacking or eating as a simple dessert all on their own. Or use their pretty colors to full advantage in an easy Rainier Cherry Salad.

    Look for pink...MORE and yellow cherries with plenty of blush, it's caused by sun exposure which usually heightens sweetness.

    Learn more about sweet cherries with this quick Guide to Sweet Cherry Varieties.