Tart Cherries

Also known as sour cherries, tart cherries are the primary ingredient in many desserts, jams and preserves, salads and beverages. Primarily though, they are the only cherry to be used in cherry pie.

The tart cherry has a very juicy and succulent texture and works well in cooking due to its acidity level. It is the acidic content which makes them superior for food preparation when compared to the sweet cherry. The acid creates the sour taste we all know and love when consuming one of the many desserts in which it is found.


In terms of classification, the tart cherry is grouped into either the morello or the amarelle. The morello cherry has red pigment throughout the skin and flesh, whereas the amarelle cherry only has the red pigment in the skin, while the actually flesh of the fruit is clear.

Morello Cherries

Morello cherries include the Balaton and the North Star cherry, the latter is a particularly ripe version of the fruit and is extremely juicy and resistant to cracking when cooked. The Balaton cherry is another one that is crimson in colour, firm and offers a good solid flavour to proceedings.

Amarelle Cherries

Within the Amarelle cherry group are the Montmorency cherry, which is the standard cherry for use within cherry pies. It has a rich and tangy flavour and is a medium to large sized fruit.  The Acerola cherry is another sort which is sourced from the West Indies and has a particular anti-oxidant value and is a great source of Vitamin C.

The Sweet Cherry Compared with the Tart Cherry

The sweet cherry and the tart cherry are the two main types of the fruit that exist and there are over 1000 types within these two groups. Sweet cherries are also known as dark cherries and they are far sweeter in terms of flavour against the tart cherry, this makes them more popular for eating from the hand.  The tart cherry has a sour bite to it and as such will rarely be eaten on its own. They are always used in the making of desserts as they offer flexibility in terms of balance. You can always add more sweetness to a recipe, but you can’t take sweetness away easily.

Often sweet cherries will lose much of their texture when baked, which doesn´t tend to occur with tart cherries, this is another reason they are generally preferred in cooking.