Cherry Varieties Compared: What’s the Difference


Types of cherries: dark sweet cherries on a branch with green leaves

It isn’t until the day you’re shopping for cherries that you stop and think “huh, what are the different types of cherries, what kind of cherries do I like best, and which should I buy right now?” As you walk through the produce department, you’re met with an array of cherries in vibrant yellow and red hues, all looking so tasty, but what’s the difference? It’s evident that cherries are enjoyed here at Stemilt in all kinds, colors, sizes, flavors, and textures, but what makes them all so uniquely delicious?

The Different Types of Cherries

As I’ve been immersing myself in cherry facts and familiarizing myself with the texture and flavor characteristics of each variety, I think it’s time to compare and contrast the differences between 6 cherry varieties grown here at Stemilt.

Rainier harvestRainier

Let’s start with a classic. One thing you should note: Rainier cherries have some of the highest sugar levels of any other sweet cherry ranging from 17-23 Brix. They have a golden yellow flesh with a red tinge (they almost look as if they are blushing from just how sweet they are.) If you’re looking for a cherry to enjoy fresh out of the bowl, these are your go-to for fresh applications. You can bake with Rainiers, but this cherry is best eaten fresh.

Dark Sweet

Cherry Harvest

Like Rainiers, Dark-sweet cherries are another fan-favorite for its explosive flavor and extreme juiciness. You’ll spot these cherries for their dark-red mahogany color and bright green stems. Stemilt grows many Dark-sweet cherries that make up this variety including: Bing, Coral, Skeena, Sweetheart, and Staccato®. Whether you’re looking for a fresh snacking cherry or fixing to bake a delicious dessert, Dark-sweet cherries can serve for every need, even juicing and freezing for later!

Skylar Rae- packaging

Skylar Rae®

If you thought Rainiers were sweet, wait until you try the sweetest cherry you’ll ever eat™, Skylar Rae® brand cherries. This variety was born from a heartwarming story and possesses flavor and color traits unlike any other cherry. Skylar Rae® is the firmest cherry grown at Stemilt with high levels of sweetness ranging from 23-25 Brix. This cherry is similar in appearance to Rainiers, but are genetically different. You’ll want to keep Skylar Rae® cherries out of the oven and kept for fresh snacking!

A Half Mile Closer to the Moon Cherries® Different types of cherries: large container of Moon Cherries seen with grower Kyle

Moon cherries, or formally known as A Half Mile Closer to the Moon® cherries, are grown in high-altitude orchards in Washington at 2,600 feet above sea level (literally a half mile closer to the moon.) Late ripening cherries like Skeena, Staccato®, and Sentennial™ thrive at higher altitudes soaking up the sun to collect aromatics, sugars, and so much juiciness! Moon cherries are great for fresh snacking and for baking, but you may not need to make a dessert with them with how sweet they are!

Kyle’s Pick®

Since we’ve been discussing how to select the best cherries during the summer, let’s talk about the one pack of cherries that get the stamp of approval from World Famous Cherry Grower, Kyle Mathison. Kyle’s Pick® cherries are the perfect combination of the best pick of Bing, Sweetheart, Skeena, and Staccato® cherries. This is the ultimate pack of firm, sweet, and explosively juicy cherries making them the perfect mix to enjoy fresh from the bag.

5 River Island view
5 River Islands™

Grown in the beautiful California Delta region, the biggest and best Dark-sweet cherries reap sweet and tangy flavors from the cool breeze of the Brentwood/Stockton River Delta. 5 River Islands™ cherries are picked at just the right time for the tastiest summertime flavors. The Lapin cherry does well in this unique farming ground of 60 islands linked together by over 700 miles of waterways. Sweet and tangy complex flavors make 5 River Islands™ cherries the perfect variety for fresh snacking or adding some tang to your dessert!

Pick A Favorite Type of Cherry

As I look down this list of cherry varieties, my personal favorite has always been the classic Rainier cherry. I crave these golden morsels during the summer season when I’m at the poolside or simply looking for a refreshing snack in the fridge.

But, enough about MY favorite cherry, I want to know which cherries YOU are always looking forward to in the summertime! Leave us a message in the comments below to share how you like to enjoy your favorite cherries, that is, if you can pick a favorite out of these scrumptious stone fruits.