Types of Cherries

Sweet and juicy cherries come in scores of different varieties—some have a slightly tart flavor that's fabulous for pies, while some are sweeter and perfect for eating fresh. Here are 6 of our favorite types and their uses.

Balaton
Balaton cherry
This late-season sour cherry with very firm, very dark, juicy flesh originally came from Hungary; the first specimen was brought to America for planting by Amy Iezzoni, a cherry biologist at Michigan State University, in 1984. According to cherry farmer Judy LaCross, the Balaton yields "the most beautiful burgundy-colored cherry pies."Brooke Slezak
Erdi Botermo
Erdi Botermo cherry
Another Hungarian import brought back to Michigan by biologist Iezzoni, this dark red sour cherry has firm flesh but a uniquely sweet-tinged flavor. It is also known as the Danube.Brooke Slezak
Montmorency
Montmorency cherry
Nicknamed "the cherry pie cherry," this staple of the Michigan cherry industry is of medium size and is fire engine red on the outside, with sturdy, very juicy, pale yellow flesh.Brooke Slezak
Queen Ann
Queen Ann cherry
Also known as Royal Ann or Napoleon, this sweet cherry, originally grown by the Germans, French, Dutch, and English, was planted in Washington State in 1847. The fruit is known for its light color (it's often white with red spots) and sweet flavor and is typically pitted and packaged as maraschinos. (Maraschino cherries are macerated in sugar syrup and dyed red. They were at one time flavored with cherry-based maraschino liqueur; hence their name.)Brooke Slezak
Ulster
Ulster cherry
Named for its native Ulster County, in New York, this dark red, midseason, firm-fleshed, generally large sweet cherry is ideal for eating fresh but is also widely canned.Brooke Slezak
Viva
Viva cherry
This early ripening and fairly firm-fleshed medium-size sweet cherry is considered ideal for home orchards because it has a long season and good flavor; it is a choice cherry for eating fresh.Brooke Slezak