Unlike sweet cherries which are best eaten fresh, sour cherries retain their intense color and flavour after processing which makes them most suited for pies, jams and other processed products. U. of S. sour cherries have three distinguishing traits which set them apart from the older varieties of sour cherries presently in existence throughout the world:
- BRIX: Sweetness levels of ripe U of S cherries are exceeding levels of traditional varieties presently in production throughout the world.
- COLOR: U of S cherries have a deep red color throughout unlike most traditional varieties which are yellowish on the inside.
- FLAVOUR: The intense flavour of U of S cherries makes them a far superior processing cherry.
The first dwarf sour cherry, SK Carmine Jewel, was released by the University of Saskatchewan in 1999 and in 2007 the Romance Series (Crimson Passion, Cupid, Romeo, Juliet and Valentine varieties) was released. The white blossoms appear on a dwarf size plant in mid to late May and depending on the variety, ripe fruit is ready for harvest from late July to early September. As the fruit ripens, the color changes from a bright red to a deep, almost purple color. Because of this deep color no food colorings or dyes are required during processing.