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Cherry vs. Cranberry: What's the Difference?

Edited by Janet White || By Harlon Moss || Updated on November 7, 2023
Cherries are sweet or tart stone fruits, typically red or black, while cranberries are tart, red berries often used in juices and sauces.

Key Differences

Cherries are fleshy stone fruits belonging to the genus Prunus, with a single hard pit inside, and are generally sweet or tart to taste. Cranberries, on the other hand, are small, hard, tart berries from the genus Vaccinium and are commonly used in processed forms like juice or sauce. Cherries come in varieties that are eaten fresh or used in desserts, while cranberries are often too tart to eat raw and are usually cooked or dried.
The cherry tree flowers beautifully in spring, and its fruit is harvested in the summer. The cranberry plant is a low-growing shrub with trailing vines and is typically harvested in the fall. While cherry trees are widely cultivated in temperate climates, cranberry beds are found in cooler regions and require a process known as wet harvesting, making cranberry farming quite distinctive.
Culturally, cherries have a strong presence in festivals and are often associated with the onset of summer in various parts of the world. Cranberries hold significant value in North American traditions, especially Thanksgiving, where cranberry sauce is a staple. While the cherry is often a symbol of the ephemeral nature of life in Japanese culture, the cranberry is celebrated for its association with health benefits and its historical use as a native food source in North America.
Nutritionally, cherries provide vitamins like vitamin C and potassium, and they are also known for containing antioxidants such as anthocyanins. Cranberries are similarly rich in vitamin C and also contain unique compounds that are thought to prevent urinary tract infections. Cherries are often eaten as a fresh snack or in pies and jams, contrasting with cranberries, which are commonly consumed as juice or as a dried fruit snack.
Cherries can be classified into sweet and sour types, with sweet cherries being larger and more commonly consumed raw. Cranberries, regardless of variety, maintain their characteristic tartness and are rarely distinguished by the casual consumer. The color of ripe cherries can range from yellow through red to almost black, while cranberries are typically known for their deep red hue.

Comparison Chart

Type of Fruit

Stone fruit with a pit.
Berry without a pit.


Ranges from sweet to tart.
Generally tart.

Harvest Season


Cultural Significance

Symbol of spring/summer, features in many festivals.
Associated with North American Thanksgiving.


Eaten fresh, in desserts, or as preserves.
Often consumed in processed forms like juice or sauce.

Cherry and Cranberry Definitions


Often used to denote a bright red color.
She painted her nails a vibrant cherry color.


Often processed into juices, sauces, and dried fruit.
I prefer my oatmeal with dried cranberries.


Can refer to the wood of a cherry tree, valued in furniture making.
The cabinet was made of fine cherry wood.


The fruit is known for its potential health benefits, including urinary tract health.
She drinks cranberry juice for its health benefits.


A small, round stone fruit that is typically red or black when ripe.
She picked a ripe cherry from the tree.


A small, acidic berry typically grown in bogs and harvested in water.
Cranberry bogs are flooded for harvest in autumn.


Symbolic of the transient nature of beauty or life, especially in Japanese culture.
The cherry blossoms are in full bloom, reminding us of life's fleeting beauty.


A fruit commonly associated with Thanksgiving and Christmas meals.
She made cranberry sauce for the holiday dinner.


Also used colloquially to refer to something new or untouched.
The car is in cherry condition, with not a scratch on it.


Can refer to a dark red color similar to that of the fruit.
She wore a dress in a deep cranberry shade.


Any of various trees or shrubs of the genus Prunus of the rose family, especially the sweet cherry or the sour cherry, native chiefly to northern temperate regions and having pink or white flowers and small juicy drupes.


A mat-forming, evergreen shrub (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in the heath family, native to eastern North America and widely cultivated for its tart, red, edible berries.


The yellow, red, or blackish fruit of any of these plants.


What is a cherry?

A cherry is a small stone fruit, usually red or black when ripe, known for its sweet to tart flavor.

How are cranberries harvested?

Cranberries are typically harvested using a method called wet harvesting, where the fields are flooded.

Are cherries good for you?

Yes, cherries are nutritious, offering vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

Do cranberries have health benefits?

Yes, cranberries are high in vitamin C and have compounds that may prevent UTIs.

Can you eat cranberries raw?

Cranberries are very tart and are usually cooked or processed before eating.

What dishes use cranberries?

Cranberries are used in sauces, juices, and as dried fruits in various recipes.

Where are cherries grown?

Cherries are grown in temperate climates worldwide, especially in regions like Europe, North America, and Asia.

How do sweet and sour cherries differ?

Sweet cherries are larger and eaten raw, while sour cherries are smaller and often used in cooking.

Can cherries be cooked?

Yes, cherries can be cooked and are commonly used in pies and jams.

Is cranberry sauce only for Thanksgiving?

While popular during Thanksgiving, cranberry sauce can be enjoyed any time.

Are cherry pits poisonous?

Cherry pits contain cyanide compounds and should not be ingested.

How long is cherry season?

Cherry season typically lasts from May to August, depending on the region.

Can you freeze cranberries?

Yes, cranberries freeze well and can be kept for several months.

Do cherries need to be pitted before eating?

Yes, cherries have a hard pit inside that is not edible.

What types of cherries are there?

Common types include Bing, Rainier, and Montmorency cherries.

What's the best way to store cherries?

Store cherries in the refrigerator and wash them just before eating.

What's the difference between cranberry juice and cocktail?

Cranberry juice is pure juice, while cranberry cocktail has added sugars and other fruit juices.

Why are cranberries associated with urinary tract health?

Compounds in cranberries may prevent bacteria from adhering to the bladder walls, reducing infection risk.

Are all cranberries red?

Most cranberries are red when ripe, but they start as green and may turn white before fully ripening.

Can you grow cranberries at home?

Growing cranberries at home is challenging as they require specific conditions, like acidic peat soil and a lot of water.
About Author
Written by
Harlon Moss
Harlon is a seasoned quality moderator and accomplished content writer for Difference Wiki. An alumnus of the prestigious University of California, he earned his degree in Computer Science. Leveraging his academic background, Harlon brings a meticulous and informed perspective to his work, ensuring content accuracy and excellence.
Edited by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.

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