7 Types of Cherries and How to Use Them
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. Each type has a unique sweet or tart flavor, making some better for snacking and others well-suited for pie and other sweet treats. Although they’re often simply labeled “cherries” at the grocery store, more than 1,000 varieties are grown in the United States! Here are the seven most common cherries used for cooking and baking.
Psst: Learn how to buy and store cherries like a pro.
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, or for making cherry jam.
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. 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 delights like cherry pies. Combine them with sugar for a stellar cherry pie, or use them to make a well-balanced cherry-raspberry jam. They’re also great to make into a delicious tart cherry juice that your health will benefit from.
Here’s how to pit cherries, even without a cherry pitter.
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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 far too sour for most to enjoy raw. Use them in your favorite sweet-tart recipe or as a sauce to bring out the flavor in your favorite meat dish, like in this Baked Ham with Cherry Sauce recipe. Here are a few other cherry recipes to get started.
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. Try tossing them into this Chocolate Pear and Cherry Salad or in this Cool Summertime Oatmeal for an added sweetness to your meal.
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 like these Cherry Coconut Bars.
The best part of these cherries is that you can enjoy them year-round! You’ll typically find that the dried cherries at your grocery store are made out of tart cherries and come with sweetened and unsweetened options. They’re a versatile version that can be added into just about anything. Have them for breakfast with this Orange Breakfast Souffle, add them into your favorite shortbread cookies or indulge in them when you have a late-night chocolate craving with these Cherry Chocolate Chunk Cookies.