There are two main cherry varieties: sweet cherries and sour cherries.
Sour cherries are round in shape and tart in flavour. They hold their shape during cooking, making them ideal for baking and preserving. In Canada, you can find the Montmorency variety of sour (or tart) cherries chilled or frozen in grocery stores.
Sweet cherries are what most people think of when they hear the word cherry. They are heart-shaped fruits that are delicious any way you eat them – cooked, baked or fresh.
The most common sweet cherry varieties you’ll see in the grocery store are Bing and Chelan cherries. Bing cherries are heart-shaped, a deep mahogany, and have a sweet and vibrant flavour. Chelan cherries ripen earlier than Bings, and are firm and round, also deep-coloured and sweet. They’re also known as black cherries.
Other varieties include Ranier (the golden-yellow cherries with a reddish tint), Lapin, Sweetheart, Skeena (dark, firm, juicy, and ripen later in season than Bing and Raniers), Staccato, and Christalina cherries.