Montmoncery cherries are small, sour and without a cherry taste

Hello friends, We have a montmoncery cherry tree that was not planted in poor soil 7 years ago. I have given it a lot of compost since, and the tree look vigorous and healthy, but the cherries are small, sour and without much cherry flavor. Even the birds don’t eat them. I am wondering if more compost and fertilizer might help??? Or any other ideas? Thanks Peggy


Sounds like you are picking them before they are ready. If you try one and it tastes like that, give them another week in the tree.

Unlike other fruits like apples, cherries will stop ripening the moment you pick them.


Thanks Don. I will try that. Best Peggy


Also they will always be sour, they are after all a “sour cherry” cultivar. My neighbor has a large Montmorency tree and the birds never eat many of them either. My toddler loves them when they are a little squishy… still sour, but definitely a strong tart cherry taste, not bland. There’s a reason they are considered more a pie cherry than a fresh eating one. But if you like sour things then they can be good fresh too.


Sourness is in the eye of the beer holder. My daughter doesn’t like sweet cherries, she finds them too sweet. She looooves to munch on sour cherries.


Absolutely, but I just wanted to make sure Peggy was aware that Montmorency is not a sweet cherry, so it’ll never taste like a Rainier or Bing or something, if that was what she was expecting.


Hello friends, Yes, I am aware that Montmoncery is a sour cherry. That is not what concerns me. It is that the cherries seem small, and they do not have much cherry flavor. And they are soft and watery, not firm. Oh well, the peaches look terrific…


They do not have a typical cherry flavor. Their sourness gives it a distinct sour cherry pie flavor.


As others said cherry flavor is different if you have a sweet or sour cherry. Sweet cherry are naturally sweet but sour cherry are tart and bland. Some people will eat them raw but they will eat cranberry raw too. Some things need sugar to be good. Blueberries to an extent to me need sugar. Cranberry and sour cherry are basically worthless to me without sugar. Sugar is why people know that cranberry sauce was not around for the pilgrims. It was not “invented” yet. Once they realized you could cook sugar with cranberry all of a sudden cranberry sauce was super popular for Thanksgiving. Same problem with sour cherries. They are great when you pit them and turn them into cherry pie, jam or a tart with sugar. You just need a cup and a half of sugar to 1 cup of sour cherries. The sweet cherry flavor is more so attributed to sweet cherries.

I’m going to have to disagree with you on that. Tart cherries have rich, distinctive taste on top of the sour that is quite different from sweet cherries. And the sugar levels are often comparable to those of sweet cherries.


100% agree, the flavor is far from bland, and they definitely have a good amount of sugar in them, just a bit more acid than I usually want. I can eat a few of them fresh, but not like a good sweet cherry, which I could probably eat a hundred before getting tired of them.

Unless they are picked quite underripe, I’ve never heard of anyone who thought blueberries need sweetening. They are sometimes almost too sweet to my palate.

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don’t forget that the acidity and tartness can mask a ton of the sugars. I have a particular cider apple that registers on the very high end for sugar content, and yet you can’t taste any of it because the tannins and acidity are overwhelming. Mixed with other apples it contributes a lot of proper hard cider character and yes, sugars to ferment.

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Found some notes. Your average brix on apples is 12~13. The average brix of Montmorency cherries is around 14. The last brix of my Franklin cider apple is 18 (extrapolated from a 1.078 specific gravity@70f) . And no, you can’t taste any sweetness in it because it is an acidity and tannin bomb.


The texture of sour cherries is not firm. They are soft to very soft. Some have more sweetnes to it than the others.

Danube tastes more sweet than several other sour cherries and the texture is less soft.

Juliet is soft and sour. However, when compared to Carmine Jewel, Juliet tastes better (more sweet if you can say that) than a very sour Carmine Jewel.

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Montmorency cherries, when grown well, have way more flavor than a sweet cherry. Most sweet cherries that you buy in the supermarket are large, watery, bland and sweet. Not much flavor. A well-grown Montmorency pie cherry bursts with flavor. All the way from sweet to tart. They put them in pies and desserts because after you cook them, they will still have flavor and texture. Most sweet cherries won’t match that. I probably wouldn’t eat a hundred sweet cherries. I do like them too, just not as much. I could eat a hundred pie cherries. I don’t because they are more medicinal and I want to eat them around the year. There are whole cultures that prefer pie cherries to sweet cherries. Eastern Europe is where cherries come from and that’s one of the places where they prefer the pie cherries.

I would not compare the ones I have gotten in my garden to sweet cherries at all. The sweet cherries I have gotten have been super sweet with a nice kick to them. My sour cherries taste sour to me raw. Sweet cherries are much larger cherries in my experience too. I am comparing my black gold sweet to Romero tart for reference.

Maybe if you’re comparing a well-grown tart cherry to a bad grocery store sweet cherry, but a well-grown sweet cherry knocks the socks off a well-grown Montmorency for fresh eating. When it’s peak cherry season here in WA you can get some pretty perfect cherries from local farm markets. A good sweet cherry is also a bit tart with a deep, rich flavor, and yes extremely sweet. Not watery at all.

I live across the river from WA. I think we can disagree about which one we prefer. I find tree ripened sweet cherries to be somewhat bland and watery, compared with pie cherries. I agree that a tree ripened sweet cherry is much better than a store bought one. I still greatly prefer Montmorency or Surefire pie cherries when eating fresh. They just have so much more flavor.

John S

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I’ve been growing Montmorency cherries for about 35 years, and I agree that most people do not eat them raw. However, they are one of my favorite fruits for pies, tarts, crisps, and other desserts. I am in the process of picking and freezing one of the best crops our single tree has ever produced and have noticed that cherries that are allowed to ripen to a dark red color are noticeably sweeter than the bright red ones.

As has been pointed out, they actually have quite a bit of sugar content, but it is somewhat masked by their acidity. For comparison, I checked the USDA food database and found that raw cherries have 8.5% sugar, compared to raw strawberries at 4.9% and frozen raspberries at 6.5%.


Well, thanks to all who have responded. I do have a question regarding my Montmoncery cherries. Do these seem to be small (as from the photo) or is this the normal size for these cherries? Thanks Peggy

They are smaller in size to any other sweet cherry. Still pitable!