The Delicious Difference between Tart and Sweet Cherries
Both Montmorency tart cherries and sweet cherries are wonderful fruits – but did you know that there are many differences between the two? Take a look:
Variety and Color: Almost all Montmorency tart cherries grown in the U.S. are the Montmorency variety. Montmorency tart cherries, also known as sour cherries, are bright red when harvested, and they retain that bold color when dried, frozen or juiced. While there are several varieties of sweet cherries, the most common is Bing. These fresh cherries are quite dark – sometimes almost purple or black.
Form: The majority of Montmorency tart cherries are enjoyed dried, frozen or as juice, alone or blended with other fruit juices. On the other hand, sweet cherries are usually consumed fresh.
Availability: Tart cherries are harvested in the summer months, but you probably won’t find them fresh unless you live in one of the growing regions. Fortunately, Montmorency tart cherries are available year-round in dried, frozen or juice forms. Most sweet cherries show up in your produce department for a relatively short time, usually in mid-summer.
Taste: Tart cherries are, well, tart. They have a unique sour-sweet flavor that is becoming more and more popular across the country. Sweet cherries can range from slightly to intensely sweet based on things like the growing area and season.
Versatility: Sweet cherries are typically eaten fresh. Because Montmorency tart cherries come in so many forms, they can be eaten from morning until night as delicious snacks, in smoothies, energy bars, trail mixes and baked goods.
Science: When it comes to nutritional science and cherries, most studies involve tart Montmorency cherries. In fact, more than 50 studies have examined the potential health benefits of Montmorency tart cherries, and the research is continuing. This research strongly supports the anti-inflammatory qualities of Montmorency tart cherries, as well as the benefits of muscle recovery and pain relief from conditions like arthritis. Studies have also found that Montmorency tart cherries contain Melatonin, a naturally occurring substance that helps regulate sleep patterns.