Interesting facts about sour cherries

sour cherries

Sour cherry (Prunus cerasus) also known as tart cherry, or dwarf cherry is a species of Prunus in the subgenus Cerasus (cherries).

Sour cherry is a natural cross between sweet cherry and ground cherry.

The geographic ranges of the two species overlap in northern Iran and Turkmenistan, which is the center of origin of sour cherry.

Birds may have carried it to Europe prior to human civilization.


Sour cherry were extremely popular with the ancient Greeks, Persians and the Romans who introduced them into Britain long before the 1st century AD.

In Britain, their cultivation was popularised in the 16th century in the time of Henry VIII. They became a popular crop amongst Kentish growers, and by 1640 over two dozen named cultivars were recorded.

As sweet cherry, sour cherry came to North America with English settlers. The first sour cherry, was planted in Massachusetts.


It is more tolerant of the humid, rainy eastern conditions, and therefore proliferated there more than sweets, where it is still cultivated today in greatest numbers.

The tree is smaller than the sweet cherry. It is about 4 to 10 meters (13 to 33 feet) and has twiggy branches. Twigs are hairless, as are the buds. Buds at the end of the stems are single or in clusters of 2-3.

The long, ovate leaves are dark green and glossy with an abrupt point at the tip. The leaf margins have small teeth around the edge. While the top of the leaf is smooth and glossy the underneath can be downy.

White flowers occur in clusters of between two and six.

sour cherry flowers

There are several varieties of the sour cherry: the dark-red morello cherry and the lighter-red varieties including the amarelle cherry, and the popular Montmorency cherry.

Normally too tart to eat raw, sour cherries are smaller than their sweet cousins and more globular in shape with softer flesh.

The higher acid content of the sour cherry produces its characteristic tart flavour.

There are about 50 calories in 100 grams (3.5 ounces) of sour cherries.


Sour cherries are a very good source of vitamin A and vtamin C. It is a good source of dietary fiber, copper and manganese.

The health benefits of sour cherries include brain health, heart health, cancer prevention, antioxidant properties, boost the immune system, reduces inflammation, reduce symptoms of arthritis and gout, protect against diabetes, promote healthy sleep and reduce post-exercise pain.

The Montmorency cherry is the most popular type of sour cherry in the United States. The reason for its popularity is its use in baking and recipe creation; including cherry pies, cherry desserts and other cherry-based recipes.


Dried sour cherries are used in cooking including soups, pork dishes, cakes, tarts, and pies.

Sour cherries or sour cherry syrup are used in liqueurs and drinks.

In Turkey, Greece, Cyprus and Serbia sour cherries are especially prized for making spoon sweets by slowly boiling pitted sour cherries and sugar.

Sour cherries have a high melatonin content and it has been suggested that the fruit is useful is alleviating sleep problems

The fruit is eaten by many mammals and birds, often as soon as it becomes ripe.