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A small round fruit, containing a single stone or pit, that is grown as one of three types: Sweet, sour or wild cherries. Sweet cherries include the bigarreaus and the gean (or guines) varieties. The bigarreaus have a flesh that is firmer than the gean, which is much softer. Within the bigarreaus varieties the most common types are the Napoleons and Bings. The most common types of geans are the Black Tartarian, Early Rivers, and the Ranier. The sweet cherries are available in colors that range from deep purple to bright red or golden yellow.

Sour cherries are categorized into amarelle or morellor (a.k.a.: morello) varieties. The color of the juices in these cherries is the most noticeable difference. The amarelle has an almost clear juice, while the morellor has a dark colored juice. The most common sour varieties are the Montmorency and the English, which have a semi-sweet to tart taste. They are most often used for syrups, pies, marmalades, liqueurs (cherry brandy and Kirsch), and some pastries. They also go well with savory dishes made with turkey or pork.

The wild cherries are generally small in size and very dark red in color. They are usually quite tart, however the well-known maraschino cherry is one of the well-known wild cherries that has a semi-sweet taste, due in part to the added flavorings. All types of cherries are used in many dishes, especially desserts, jams, preserves, and liqueurs. Cherries are also a very popular flavoring in many processed food products.

When selecting, choose unblemished cherries that are firm and plump in appearance. The stem should still be attached to keep bacteria from invading the fruit. Cherries can be stored at room temperature if they are to ripen or be eaten fairly soon after purchasing. Cherries that are to be saved can be frozen by pitting them, placing them as single layers in an airtight bag, and storing in the freezer.

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