Tart Cherries 101

Found in dried, frozen and canned forms, in addition to tart cherry juice and juice concentrate – tart cherries can be enjoyed year-round.

Once known primarily as an ingredient for pie, Montmorency tart cherries (also called sour cherries) have broken out of their shell. Now they’re a super fruit known for their distinctive sour-sweet flavor and unique nutrient profile.

Turns out, the tart taste is an indication of the amount of anthocyanins inside. These flavonoid compounds are behind the sourness, intense red color and potential health-promoting properties, like reducing muscle soreness after exercise, easing arthritis pain and enhancing heart health. They may even help you sleep better at night because they contain melatonin, a natural hormone that regulates our sleep cycle.

Tart cherries are harvested in July, but you probably won’t find them fresh unless you live in one of the growing regions.

Tart cherries are harvested in July, but you probably won’t find them fresh unless you live in one of the growing regions.

Tart Cherry Harvest

Montmorency is the varietal of tart cherry (Prunus cerasus) most commonly grown in the U.S. and Canada. The name comes from a valley in the northern suburbs of Paris, France, where tart cherries were first cultivated in the 18th century.

Now, more than 94 percent of tart cherries consumed in the U.S. are grown in the U.S. In fact, Traverse City, Michigan, is considered the Cherry Capital of the World. Utah, Washington, New York, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania are other prominent tart cherry-producing states.