Growing bing cherry tree

Every fruit has its peak season, but there are a few, such as cherries, that are truly only good for a month or two each year. A juicy red cherry is a treasure that we gardeners can spend a whole afternoon fantasizing about growing but most of us have to limit ourselves to the daydream. Disease, poor pollination and birds are just a few of the obstacles that stand in the way of a good harvest.

If you considered planting a cherry tree but thought better of it because of the aforementioned drawbacks I suggest you give the idea a second look. Unlike the varieties of yore, modern cherries boast disease resistance, heat and humidity tolerance, compact form and self-pollination. All of these characteristics make successfully growing a cherry tree a realistic venture.

There are actually two types of cherries – sweet (Prunus avium) and tart or sour (Prunus cerasus). Sweet cherries are the type that you will find in the grocery store that you can eat fresh. P. cerasus bears firm, sour cherries that are used for cooking, baking and preserving. Sweet cherries are best suited for areas where temperatures are mild and humidity is low while tart cherries will grow in cooler climates and need about 2 months of winter temperatures below 45° F. Washington, Oregon and California produce more than 97 percent of the sweet cherries in the U.S. and the top tart cherry producing state is Michigan. That should give you some indication of their climate preferences.

Of the two sweet cherries are the more difficult to grow, but if you are willing to commit to some hand holding there are modern varieties that are easier than old-fashioned types like ‘Bing’. Tart cherries are more disease resistant, cold tolerant, accepting of poor soil and reliably self-fertile.

Both types of cherry trees need similar care. Plant them in a spot with full sun, good air circulation and well-drained soil. Self-fertile cherries will produce fruit without another variety present for cross-pollination. If you select a variety that’s not self-fertile check the tag for a list of cultivars you can plant together for the best pollination. Standard cherries that grow large should be planted 35 to 40 feet apart. You can space dwarf trees 8 to 10 feet apart.

Once you plant your tree keep it consistently watered, but not soaked, for the first year. Deep soak established trees when the top few inches of the soil is dry. A layer of mulch will go a long way toward keeping the soil around the roots moist and cool. And don’t forget to give your cherries and all your trees and shrubs extra moisture going into winter, especially after a dry fall.

When it comes to fertilizer, feed the soil rather than the tree. If the tree appears happy an application of compost in early spring will be sufficient. If you think the tree needs more of a boast do a soil test first to determine what type and how much nutrient should be added. If the growth rate seemed slow the previous year an application of nitrogen may be called for. Apply it at a rate of 1/8 of a pound per inch of the diameter of the trunk. Fruit bearing sweet cherries will grow about 10 to 15 inches every year; sour cherries grow at a rate of 8 to 10 inches every year.

Pruning cherry trees is important for tree strength and fruit production. This task should be done every year. How and when you prune depends on the type of cherry, variety and your climate. For instance, the dwarf sweet cherry ‘Compact Stella’ growing in an arid climate can be pruned in late winter while the same tree growing in a humid region would be better served with a late spring pruning after the blooms fade. My best advice is to research the variety you select and check with your cooperative extension about timing. Oh, and don’t over think the task. You’ll be surprised how easy it is once you are armed with the right information.

My final thought on growing cherries is about birds. They love these treasured fruits as much as we do. You can cut down on the amount you share by covering the tree with bird netting. This is much easier to accomplish if you choose a dwarf variety. Look for sweet cherries grafted onto rootstocks named Gisela, Krymsk or Colt. In addition to the more manageable size these rootstocks offer other advantages such as disease resistance and tolerance of poor soils. Sour cherries are naturally smaller than sweet cherries and there is a selection of varieties that are genetically dwarf.

Cherry Tree

If George Washington indeed chopped down a cherry tree, it was probably because he was miffed about not getting any fruit. Fruiting cherries, both sweet and sour types, make attractive trees for the home garden, but getting a decent crop is a challenge in the South. For strictly ornamental cherries, see Prunus.

Sweet cherries

  • These are best grown in the Upper South, preferably in the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains.
  • They are the most common market type, but their high chilling requirement (many hours needed below 45F) makes them poorly adapted to most of the South.
  • They can’t take extreme summer heat or intense winter cold, and freezes and heavy spring rains can damage crop.
  • Trees reach 2035 feet tall and broad in some selections.

The worst single problem for sweet cherries grown in the South is bacterial canker. Gardeners should check with their local Cooperative Extension Offices for recommended methods of control.

In the past, many gardeners stayed away from sweet cherries, because the trees are naturally large (to 35 feet high and wide), and most need cross-pollination, so they have to plant two. But breeding advances have produced many self-fruitful varieties (noted in descriptions) and much smaller sizes.

Good selections include the following:


  • Small, glossy black fruit with excellent flavor.
  • Resists cracking.
  • Midseason to late.


  • Top quality.
  • Large, dark red, meaty fruit of fine flavor.
  • Midseason.

Black Tartarian

  • Fruit smaller than ‘Bing’, purplish black, firm and sweet.
  • Early.
  • Dark red, purple-fleshed early cherry that performs well in all sweet cherry areas.
  • Black Tartarian, ‘Royal Ann’, ‘Van’ are all good pollenizers.


  • Medium-large black cherry.
  • Ripens with ‘Van’, but fruit colors before maturity, needs early protection from birds.
  • Productive tree begins bearing fruit when young.


  • Large, firm black fruit.
  • Flavor more sprightly than ‘Bing’.
  • Late.


  • Resembles ‘Bing’ but is self-fruitful.
  • Early to midseason.

Royal Ann


  • Dark fruit like ‘Lambert’; ripens a few days later.
  • Self-fertile and good pollenizer for other cherries.
  • Compact Stella is similar, but tree is half the size.


  • Large, bright red; excellent flavor.
  • Self-fruitful and heavy bearing.
  • Late.


  • Heavy-bearing tree.
  • Shiny black fruit, firmer and slightly smaller than ‘Bing’.
  • Ripens slightly earlier than or at the same time as ‘Bing’.

White Gold

  • Large, yellow with red blush; fine flavor.
  • Self-fruitful and heavy bearing; resists cracking.
  • Midseason.

The newly introduced German dwarfing rootstocks (‘Gisela 5’ and ‘Gisela 6’) now provide gardeners with smaller sweet cherry trees that are easier to manage. Self-fruitful selections now available on these rootstocks include ‘Sandra Rose’, ‘Barton’, and ‘Stardust’. Some of these may prove satisfactory in the South.

Sour cherries

  • Also known as pie cherries.
  • More widely adapted than sweet cherries; succeed along the Atlantic Coast and farther north and south than sweet cherries do.
  • In home gardens and orchards, grow in Upper and Middle South in well-drained soil.
  • Sour cherry trees are smaller than sweet cherry treesto about 20 feet tall, with spreading habit.
  • They are self-fertile.
  • There are far fewer types of sour cherries than sweet ones.

Early Richmond

  • Highly recommended.
  • Like ‘Montmorency’.
  • Early.

English Morello

  • Dark red, some- what tart fruit with red juice.
  • Late.

Kansas Sweet

  • Large red fruit is semisweet.
  • Late.


  • Fruit like ‘Montmorency’ but on a smaller tree.
  • Late.


  • Highly recommended.
  • Small, bright red, soft, juicy fruit with a sweet-tart flavor.
  • Midseason to late.

North Star

  • Fruit has red to dark red skin and sour yellow flesh.
  • Susceptible to bacterial canker.
  • Small, very hardy tree.
  • Midseason.


  • Bright red skin and flesh; sweet flavor.
  • Late.

Top five ways to grow large cherries

Lynn Long, Oregon State University Extension educator, gives a pruning demonstration during an international tree fruit meeting held last winter in Boston.

The days of a moderate-sized cherry crop in the Pacific Northwest are gone, short of widespread weather events that reduce the crop. With more than 50,000 acres of sweet cherries planted in Washington and Oregon, last year’s record-setting crop of 23.2 million 20-pound boxes will be more common as young orchards planted to high density come into full production.

“We’ve got a lot of cherries planted,” said Lynn Long, Oregon State University Extension educator for Wasco County. “Nowadays, when we have a moderate- to large-sized crop, we have difficulty selling all of the fruit. We don’t need more cherries on the market. What we need are high quality cherries for the market.”

The way to produce large fruit, he said, is to prune to eliminate small fruit on the tree. “Pruning is by far the most important thing a grower can do to produce large, high quality cherries. Whether trees are on full-size or dwarfing rootstock, with today’s market conditions, there’s just no point in growing small cherries.”

Long offered the following pointers to help growers produce large fruit:

1 Prune out small and pendant wood.

This is especially important with Gisela rootstocks, but also with trees on Mazzard, Long said. “How many times have you seen pendant wood in a Mazzard tree where there’s no new growth at the end of the branch? Let’s get rid of that wood that will produce 11.5- and 12-row fruit and focus on growing the 9-row fruit.”

2 Keep the leaf-to-fruit ratio in balance.

The leaf-to-fruit ratio is important with all rootstocks, but is especially critical with productive rootstocks. He recommends having at least six leaves for every fruit on the tree. For productive rootstocks, that means tipping every branch to remove the mass of fruit that in two years will grow on the end of the branch. Fruit left on the end of the branch, particularly with Sweetheart and Lapins, usually grow in such tight clusters that they are misshapen and damaged when picked. Tipping the branches also stimulates new growth throughout the tree, helping keep the leaf-to-fruit ratio in balance.

3 Prune for light.

Light needs to reach all parts of the tree, not just the top of the tree. The industry has largely moved away from the top-heavy, vase-shaped training systems that allowed little light to reach the base of the tree.

“You want to have a pyramid or ­Christmas-tree shape to your trees to ensure that the bottom of the trees receive light,” Long said. “Make sure the top of the tree doesn’t dominate, especially if you’re using a central or steep leader system.”

Modern training systems, such as the UFO (upright fruiting offshoot), spindle, steep leader, and central leader, should treat each lateral branch as a temporary one that is rotated out for new fruiting wood. He advised growers to avoid allowing big wood on the top by pruning out or stubbing back laterals that are greater than half the size of the branch they emanate from.

4 Provide nutrients to achieve two feet of new growth annually.

“In order to grow quality cherries, you’ve got to have new growth on the tree every year, regardless of rootstock,” he said, adding there should be 18 to 24 inches of new growth throughout the entire tree. Growth is needed to maintain the leaf-to-fruit ratio and to supply carbohydrates for two years before the buds turn into spurs. Growers should test their soil every three to five years, using the nutrient levels as a baseline to show soil nutrient trends. If annual tree growth is less than desired, more frequent soil testing is recommended. Some growers also take annual foliar samples in August to show nutrition trends. Long encouraged growers to look at the total picture—annual growth, nutrient trends, and visual observations—when deciding on nutrient amendments. Relying only on one component, such as foliar sampling, can be misleading if you had a big crop or a lot of growth because the test will likely show low levels of nitrogen and other nutrients, he added.

5 Irrigate when the crop needs it.

Many growers in the Northwest overirrigate in the spring and underirrigate as harvest approaches.

“I see this happen time after time,” Long said, adding that overirrigation early in the season needlessly cools down the soil and discourages cell growth and division at a time things need to be happening. Later in the season, when temperatures are warm and trees are supporting a full canopy, growers often don’t apply enough water. Soil moisture can be determined through a simple touch-and-feel method (making a ball from soil collected a foot deep) or from a variety of soil moisture sensors. The important thing is that soil moisture is routinely measured. He suggests assigning a person or hiring a consultant to make sure the task gets done throughout the season. “If soil moisture levels aren’t read on a regular basis, they’re not very useful.”

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Bing CherryPrunus avium ‘Bing’

This tree:

  • Produces large, heart-shaped fruit with a firm, meaty, purplish-red flesh and a semi-free stone–ideal for fresh eating and preserves.
  • Provides up to 50–100 lbs. of cherries per year when mature (standard tree).
  • Blooms in early spring, with clusters of white flowers that have a delightful fragrance.
  • Is available in standard and dwarf sizes. Our standard Bing seedlings are budded onto Prunus avium mazzard or sweet cherry, and our dwarf seedlings are grafted to Prunus besseyi (sand cherry).
  • Yields uniformly ripe fruit sometime in mid-June or mid-summer.
  • Needs regular watering through dry periods.
  • Requires cross-pollination with a compatible variety with the same bloom time that is growing within 100′ for standard trees (20′ for dwarf trees). We suggest Black Republican, Sam, Black Tartarian, Schmidt, Cavalier, Stella, Gold, Van, Heidelfingen, Vega, Montmorency, Vista, Ranier and Windsor.
  • Has a chill hours (CU) requirement of 700–800. (Chill hours are the average hours of air temperature between 32° and 45° F in a typical winter season.)
  • Begins to bear fruit in 5–6 years (standard tree).
  • Features simple leaves that are dark green, measure 3–6″ long and have blunt teeth on the margin.
  • Grows in a rounded shape.
  • Develops smooth, glossy, reddish bark studded with short, horizontal, corky stripes.
  • Should be planted early in the season because leaf buds open early and the roots are slower to establish.

Bing Cherry Tree

Delicious, Plump Cherries in the First Year

Why Bing Cherry Trees?

The Bing Cherry delivers the promise of great-tasting cherries in the first year. With other trees or seed-grown plants, you often have to wait years for harvests. The Bing Cherry breaks the mold – and because it’s drought-tolerant and adaptable to various soil types, it thrives without hassle.

It’s one of the most popular dark cherries found in grocers. But since you’re growing yours right at home, you don’t have to worry about supermarket visits. And you can grow your Bing Cherry Tree organically, without pesticides. That means you get the most healthful fruit possible for snacking, baking and more.

Why is Better

Aside from rapid, easy growth and the promise of cherries faster, your Bing Cherry Tree is second to none because we’ve meticulously monitored it from growth. We’ve planted, nurtured and shipped your Bing Cherry with the utmost care, so you get even better results at your home. And an abundance of cherries, consistent in size, shape, and taste season after season.

Whether you use them for toppings, pies, or salads, the possibilities are endless. The Bing is versatile – and promises a delectable, large bounty each June. Order your Bing Cherry Tree today!

Planting & Care

1. Planting: First, find an area with well-drained soil and full sun (6 to 8 hours of sunlight per day). Once you’ve selected your location, dig a hole that’s approximately a foot and a half deep and equally as wide. Place your Bing Cherry in the hole, tamp down the surrounding soil to remove air pockets, and then water to settle the roots. Finally, spread a layer of mulch over the soil around your Cherry Tree to help encourage healthy growth and preserve moisture.

2. Watering: During the growing season, if your tree receives at least an inch of rain every 10 days then no additional irrigation is necessary. If the season is hot and dry, then you may need to provide some additional water. The best way to water is by using a slow trickling garden hose and leaving it at the base of the tree for about 30 seconds, once a week. If you’re not sure when to water, however, check the soil about 2 or 3 inches down. If the soil is dry here, it’s time to water.

3. Pruning: A year after planting your Cherry Tree, prune in the late winter, while it’s still dormant. Shape the tree to encourage horizontal branch growth with space between branches. Prune once a year as necessary to remove weak, drooping branches.

4. Fertilizing: Fertilize in the spring and midsummer using nitrogen fertilizer, applying 2 weeks after planting and 4 weeks after the first application. Use a complete fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, and apply 6 to 8 inches away from the trunk.

FGT Tip: Surround your Cherry Tree with a thin layer of mulch each spring, and avoid organic fertilizers for best results.

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Homegrown Bing Cherry Trees – How To Care For A Bing Cherry Tree

There are two main types of cherries in commercial production – sweet and sour. Of these, the sweet variety are the juicy, sticky finger type, and Bing is one of the most popular in the group. In the Pacific Northwest, the largest supplier of cherries in the U.S., growing Bing cherries has become a bankable endeavor, as it is the most widespread commercially available cultivar. If you have or are going to acquire one of these tasty fruit trees, continue reading for tips on Bing cherry care.

About Bing Cherry Trees

Deeply red, heart-shaped fruits with a taste of summer and the promise of pie. I’m talking about Bing cherries, of course. The variety was first introduced in 1875 in Salem, Oregon and has become one of the most economically important cherries. Bing cherry trees thrive in temperate regions and bear 4 to 7 years from planting. Learn how to care for a Bing cherry and you could be enjoying backyard fruit in just a few years.

These cherry trees are hardy into United States Department of Agriculture zones 5 to 8. The tree can get 35 feet (11 m.) tall, but if you want a dwarf variety, these only grow 15 feet

(4.5 m.) tall. The plant has a medium growth rate and produces a rounded canopy with smooth, reddish bark marked with horizontal corky stripes on the trunk. The leaves are dark green and up to 6 inches (15 cm.) long with serrated edges.

The tree needs another sweet cherry as a pollinating partner and has a chilling requirement of at least 700. It blooms in early spring with a mass of perfumed white flowers. Fruits arrive around July.

How to Care for a Bing Cherry

Bing cherry trees need a full day of sunlight for best flower and fruit production. They also require well-draining soil that is a touch on the sandy side. After planting, keep the young tree moist, as cherries are not drought tolerant.

Remove competitive weed pests and apply mulch around the root zone. An important part of Bing cherry care that helps form an open shape and sturdy branches is pruning. Prune your cherry tree in late winter. This will spur the growth of new fruiting wood.

Feed in spring until the tree starts to fruit. Bearing cherry trees are only harvested after the season.

Black knot and bacterial canker are two common diseases of cherry. Remove any infected plant material as soon as lesions are observed. Use appropriate pesticides and sticky traps as needed during the season.

Harvesting Bing Cherries

If you want to protect all those sweet, finger-licking cherries, a bird net is your best friend. They are easy to use and prevent much of the pirating of your fruit. Harvesting Bing cherries may take up to a week since the individual fruits sweeten and ripen at just slightly different times. The ones to pick are deeply, uniformly red.

Cherries will not ripen once off the tree, so if you have any doubts, taste a couple to make sure they are sweet enough. Take the stem with the fruit if you plan on using the fruit later. Store cherries at 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 C.) for up to 10 days. Perforated plastic bags will keep them freshest.

If you have a bumper crop and can’t eat them in time, try freezing the fruit. Wash, de-stem and place cherries in a single layer on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, transfer them to plastic bags and store in the freezer.

When are Bing Cherries in season?

By : The Hale Groves Team | On : July 20, 2018 | Category : Fruit Facts

You can find apples, oranges, bananas and other fruits all year round any time you go grocery shopping but you can?t say the same thing for cherries. This is one of the main reasons why gourmet cherries are considered a treat when they finally grace the store shelves or fruit stands.

Bing Cherries Season

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The delectable and sinfully luscious Bing Cherries are only available for a limited time each year so it is important for you to know when these decadent drupes will hit the shelves for you to be able to enjoy them.

Bing cherry is a midseason cherry variety. Bing Cherries are large, heart-shaped, dark red to purple-colored cherries with confectionary sweetness best for eating fresh, canning or freezing. They are also a quintessential dessert ingredient when they are in season.

Although considered to be the most cultivated variety and the benchmark standard of all fresh cherries for sale, Bing Cherries are only available in July.

If you want to experience eating the sweetest, crispest and most delicious sweetheart cherries, buy cherries online and enjoy the plumpest, reddest and most flavorful Bing cherries for sale you will ever have the chance to get your hands on.

Bing Cherries Facts

Since we love Bing cherries so much it wouldn?t hurt to know a few things about them.

  • Bing cherry was created in 1875 in Willamette Valley, Oregon by horticulturist Seth Lewelling as a crossbred graft from the Black Republican cherry cultivar with the help of his Manchurian Chinese foreman, Ah Bing.
  • Bing cherry is named after Ah Bing, a Manchurian Chinese immigrant who worked as a foreman for the Lewelling family and oversaw the production of the family?s orchard where the Bing cherry was created.
  • Cherries are not only tasty they area also healthy. They contain vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, potassium, boron and anthocyanin – a potent antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytochemical.
  • Cherries can lower blood pressure, reduce risk of stroke, are good for diabetes due to their low glycemic index, offer Osteoarthritis pain relief, lower risk of gout attack and boost bodybuilding recovery.
  • Since Bing cherries are seasonal premium fruits, sending Cherry gifts to friends, relatives, loved ones, and even business associates would be the perfect way of sharing happiness and good fortune.

Purchase Bing Cherries

These big, lustrous, long-stemmed cherries are grown in the rarefied air of a few high-altitude orchards in Washington state, where clear starry nights and cold mountain snowmelt produce sweeter, crisper, more delicious cherries than any you’ve ever tasted. Shop Now

What Is the Difference Between Tart Cherries and Sweet Cherries?

All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission.

“What is the difference between tart cherries and sweet cherries?” may seem like a silly question—the answer is right there in the names. But there is more to know (and love) about both varieties of cherry other than that one makes your mouth pucker and one does not.

Cherries can definitely make a good thing even better. There’s a reason we think of a cherry on top of our food (usually ice cream) as the most complete treat. Metaphorically, a cherry topper means a final, small special touch above and beyond something already wonderful. Clearly, this cherry thing deserves to be explored further (and we have recipes for both sorts if you scroll down).

These ruby jewels of nature shine each year during their May-through-August season. A little cheat sheet reminding you about this summer stone fruit might help you at the grocery store when choosing your cherries. There are two main kinds: sweet and sour (tart). Choose well, and make something tasty even tastier. Or just fill up on all the fruit and forget the other stuff.

Sweet Cherries


Sweet cherries are best enjoyed fresh when harvested mid-season, in late June and July. We love them uncooked, eaten straight off the stem, or incorporated into a salad (not just fruit salad, but savory green salads too). Try them chopped up for fruit salsa or in an appetizer involving creamy white cheese such as chèvre or ricotta.

Related Reading: How to Pair Cheese with Summer Fruit | Choice Cherry Recipes (Sweet & Savory)

Sweet cherry flesh can turn mealy when baked, but will still be good lightly cooked, like in a pan sauce (see our Pork Chops with Cherry Sauce recipe).

The most popular variety of sweet cherries, Bing cherries, have skin that’s dark red to purple-red, which darkens even more to almost black as it ripens, and the flesh is also dark red or purple. Bings are firm, meaty, sweet, and juicy, according to Greenhouse Garden Center in Carson City, Nevada. (They’re usually the main ingredient in black cherry juice, which is often sold in concentrate form, and is said to help alleviate gout by lowering uric acid levels.)


Rainier cherries have skin that is more yellow with a blushing bright red and yellow flesh inside. This variety might be a smidgen less sweet than Bing, but both come from the same cherry tree, the prunus avium.

Bing is arguably the most famous cherry from this stock, first produced in the late 1800s on Lewelling Farms in Oregan; the Bing name comes from one of the farm’s Chinese workers. The Rainier cherry variety was developed later by Harold W. Fogle at the Washington State University Research Station by crossing Bing with another popular variety, Van.

YouTensils Cherry Pitter, $11.75 on Amazon

Sure, you’ve seen cherry pitters. But have you seen one pit six cherries at once?

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Related Reading: Super-Specific Summer Produce Tools You’ll Want to Try

Bing sweet cherries have shown greater anti-inflammatory activity than tart cherries in research studies, according to Dr. Michael Greger, a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker. “This makes sense since we think it may be the anthocyanin phytonutrients, and there are much more in sweet red cherries than in tart, and nearly none in yellow Rainier cherries,” Greger said.

Related Reading: The Science of Why Brightly Colored Fruit Is So Good for You

Bing and Rainier are the most popular sweet cherry varieties, but other options include: Black Republican, Black Tartarian, Craig’s Crimson, Garden Bing, Lambert, Lapins, Mona, Royal Ann, Sam, Stella, Sunburst, Van, and Utah Giant.

Tart Cherries

Nicknamed “pie cherries,” fresh sour cherries are best baked, jammed, and juiced.

The most popular variety, Montmorency cherries, are bright red, but you usually find them dried, frozen, or canned—not fresh, unless you live near one of the small family farms in North America where they’re grown, according to the Cherry Marketing Institute. Called the Cherry Capitol of the World, Michigan grows about 75 percent of Montmorency’s tart cherries. Washington, Pennsylvania, New York, Utah, and Washington are other prominent Montmorency cherry producing states.

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Like the name implies, Montmorency tart cherries have a sour-sweet flavor.

This is the type of cherry most often studied for its potential health benefits, according to the institute. Research indicates tart Montmorency cherries reduce inflammation (which can help with arthritis), lower cholesterol and triglycerides (and hence help fight heart disease), even speed up muscle recovery after a workout, and aid sleep. That tart taste is an indication a high amount of antioxidants and anthocyanins, which contribute to the first few benefits. The cherry’s melatonin helps regulate sleep. Other studies indicate that cherries could even help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

The Montmorency name comes from a valley north of Paris, France, where tart cherries were first cultivated in the 18th century—bet their early fans didn’t expect they had so many health benefits. The Early Richmond and North Star are two other sour cherry varieties.

Maraschino Cherries

These cherries—artificially bright pinkish-red, preserved in a jar—are a class unto themselves. They have a bad rep, and with good cause. They’re stripped of their natural delights to be replaced with high fructose corn syrup and artifical dyes. Why, oh why?!

Chowhound’s Shirley Temple

Made from sweet cherries today, the Maraschino originally was a small black cherry named Marasca originally from what is now Croatia and northern Italy.

For centuries, the fruit was brined and then macerated in maraschino liqueur (the liquor distilled from the pulp, skin, and pits). The cherries were popular in the United States as a drink garnish until Prohibition made the alcohol-soaked fruit illegal. Then a nonalcoholic alternative was developed in 1925 by Ernest H. Wiegand, a professor of horticulture at Oregon State University.

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You can still buy the gourmet variety, though!

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Maraschinos are any cherry too small or bruised to sell, soaked in salt solution to remove natural color and flavor, pitted, soaked in sweetener for 30 days, and dipped in artificial food coloring. They’re often used on desserts, cocktails, and that kids’ non-alcoholic cocktail, the Shirley Temple. But you can make your own. And use other cherries, fresh this summer season or frozen, for all sorts of sweet and savory dishes.

Sweet and Tart Cherry Recipes

Use ’em while you’ve got ’em.

1. Spiral-Cut Hot Dogs with Spicy Cherry Relish


Wait, what?! Yes, this recipe contains not one, but two unusual approaches to a backyard barbecue classic. Watch the video on how to spiral-cut your hot dogs, which are a surprisingly good match for chopped cherries sautéed with oil, balsamic vinegar, and chile pepper. Get our Spiral-Cut Hot Dogs with Spicy Cherry Relish recipe.

2. Pistachio-White Chocolate-Cherry Crisps


Nutty, creamy, and tart, these sweet cookies will get you dunking in your milk in no time. You’ll be using dried cherries in this crispy cookie—pick tart or sweet as you prefer, and remember to save time for freezing the dough. Get our Pistachio-White Chocolate-Cherry Crisps recipe.

3. Smoked Cherry Hot Sauce


Great for all your grilled meats and beans, and whatever you love doused with hot sauce (everything!), these spicy and sweet flavors have been a popular pairing for a long time for good reason. Use sweet cherries and habanero peppers. Get our Smoked Cherry Hot Sauce recipe.

4. Fresh Cherry Cobbler


We had to provide at least one classic cherry recipe, and while we love a good old-fashioned Lattice Cherry Pie, this is equally temping. What’s especially nice about it is you get a pie-like experience without having to mess with making a perfect crust. Get our Fresh Cherry Cobbler recipe.

5. Cherry Clafouti (Clafoutis)


For another easy (but fancy) take on cherries, a French clafoutis is a classic choice. Traditionally, the cherry pits are left intact, but we recommend removing them before adding them, just to be safe. (Pro-tip: a paperclip makes pitting cherries pretty painless.) Get our Cherry Clafoutis recipe.

Related Reading: 10 Genius Summer Produce Hacks

6. Slushy Cherry Old Fashioned


Fresh sweet cherries blended into a frozen Old Fashioned make for a stunning summer drink, ideal for sipping by the pool. Get our Slushy Cherry Old Fashioned recipe.

7. Maraschino Cherries


This is quite a step up from the scary neon ones. Use Bing cherries for this one, plus Maraschino liqueur such as Luxardo and a vanilla bean, then use them to garnish all the drinks and desserts you desire. Get our Homemade Maraschino Cherries recipe. (And try our Citrus Brandied Cocktail Cherries recipe too.)

8. Smoked Duck and Cherry Pressed Sandwich


A crisp-crusted pressed panini with smoked duck, fresh Bing cherries, and melty blue cheese is pretty much perfect. (If you want to up the ante, though, add some of our Dried Cherry Mustard.) Get our Smoked Duck and Cherry Pressed Sandwich recipe.

9. Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Cherry Sauce


This luscious bittersweet chocolate ganache tart calls for frozen cherries to make the vodka-spiked sauce, but by all means, use fresh cherries in season. Get our Dark Chocolate Ganache Tart with Cherry Sauce recipe.

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