White cherries are one of the cultivars of sweet cherries (Prunus avium). This particular type of cherry is considered to be the sweetest of all the sweet cherries. White cherries are also known as Rainier cherries. They were invented by scientists at the Washington State University who cross-bred Bing cherries with Van cherries, 2 sweet cherry varieties.
The white cherries are so named because their flesh is white and creamy. The skin of this cultivar of cherries is yellowish in color with red blush when ripe. The cherries are in season in the summer months from mid to late June to the end of August. These cherries are very delicate and will need a great deal of care. They bruise easily and are very sensitive to changes in the climatic conditions. They need a lot of sunlight to ripen well. Sunlight is also responsible for their color and sweetness as it must be present for photosynthesis to occur.
Good quality white cherries are large and firm and are blush colored. To keep their firmness, farmers like to harvest these cherries at dawn. If these cherries are picked in the heat, they become soft and squishy. White cherries have very high sugar content and this can be evident in their brown spotting or slight discoloration which is sometimes evident on their skins.
However, you should not eat cherries that have wrinkled skin, are very soft and/or have very serious discoloration as this could indicate that they are going bad. The high sugar content in the cherries does make them store well for quite a while. If your cherries start to get a little soft, chilling them will make them firm up quite well.
White cherries are well loved because of their low acid content and high sweetness levels. The sweetness is because they contain a high level of glucose. Even the birds enjoy this fruit and many white cherry farmers will report losing about a third of their crop to birds.
White cherries are mostly eaten fresh as a dessert on their own. They are also used as an ingredient in desserts, ice creams, pies, cakes, tarts and other pastries. Many people pair them with other fruits such as plums and apricots which are stone fruits like the cherries.
White cherries, like other cherry varieties, are quite nutritious. They contain Vitamins C and A, and are very high in dietary fiber. They also contain potassium and iron. A serving of these cherries contains about 90 calories, a majority of which come from the sugar content. Even though these cherries are known for their high sugar content, they have a relatively low glycemic index of 22. One big plus is they do not contain sodium.
Although the tart cherry varieties contain more health benefits, the sweet cherry varieties such as white cherries also have a host of cherries health benefits.