Although Britain grows a small supply of cherries, much of our stocks come from Europe and America.
Divided into three main types: sweet, sour and hybrid, they come in a wide range of shapes, colours and flavours. Ranging from red through to deep maroon and almost black in colour, they're also available in yellow and pink varieties.
YELLOW CHERRIES tend to have a sharper flavour and firm flesh, while darker, maroon varieties are sweeter and juicier.
TABLE CHERRIES are the sweetest variety, while tart morellos or girottes are great for cooking - their intense flavour makes them an ideal choice for preserve-making. Hybrid cherries, as their name suggests, are a mixture of sweet and sour varieties.
SOUR CHERRIES are rarely sold loose in Britain - it's easier to get hold of them in cans and jars.
MORELLO CHERRIES are used for making Kirsch - a clear cherry liqueur, incorporated in cocktails and desserts.
Look for smooth, firm and plump fruit, with unwrinkled skin. The best way to keep cherries is in an open bag - they'll keep for 2-3 days in the fridge.
IN THE KITCHEN
Serve spiced cherry compote with rich meats, and add a dash of red wine vinegar for a tangy flavour. Their distinctive flavour makes them a good match with rich game, red meats and poultry.
Dried varieties make a healthy snack and are often baked in biscuits, buns and sponges.
Glacé cherries are cooked in thick sugar syrup, which also preserves them. They're most common use is in cakes and biscuits.
Perhaps the best known use of black cherries is in Black Forest gateau - a German classic. They also make great pie fillings and are often used in salads, both sweet and savoury.
The French are partial to clafoutis - a rich, baked batter, studded with cherries.
Cherries work particularly well with chocolate and warming spices - cinnamon and cloves and star anise.