Thursday, June 3, 2021

Homemade Cherry Pie Filling and Pie

My new landlord has two cherry trees in his backyard. I happened to move in right as they were ripening up. With all these cherries, it made sense to start processing them in a smart way. Pie was an obvious choice.
The cherry trees bear Rainier Cherries. I'm told these are best suited for snacking on as they are a premier cherry. But after making homemade cherry pie filling with these, I beg to differ. Let me go over the recipes I used to make this pie.

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First, the cherries had to be washed and pitted. There are handheld cherry pitters available for sale, but in our case, this had to be done by hand. It's quite a labor of love, but well worth it in the end. You'll need 4 cups of pitted cherries per cherry pie. (aside note: maybe I can get @diecaster_d to make me a cherry pitter)
For the filling, the 4 cups of cherries get combined with a cup of white sugar and a tablespoon of cornstarch. There are recipes for the filling that use lemon juice, but these cherries are naturally tart, so I decided against adding it.
First, the mixture of cherries must be cooked at medium/low heat with the lid of a the pot on. After 10 - 15 minutes of occasional stirring, the juice from the cherries should be released. The solid ingredients are slowly added/stirred into the mixture to thicken it. Once all the solids are added, the mixture is simmered for a while longer to finish it. This cherry pie filling can be used directly, or stored in jars in the fridge/freezer for a later date.
For the pie crust, I modified the recipe from Cookie and Cups, omitting the apple cider vinegar. This recipe was very similar to the one I used for the Apple Pie I made last year, but this one did not use any vegetable oil/shortening. After making both, I like this one better because the ice water addition makes the dough easier to handle compared to adding vegetable oil. And I didn't have to chill the dough overnight.
In this instance, I was a little hasty with preparing the crust (i.e. the lattice) but the pie still came out fantastic. I made sure to do a good job incorporating the butter into the dough with my pastry blender, and the flakiness of the pie crust really stood out. This combined with the sweet and tart cherry filling made it the best tasting pie I have eaten. I could compare the flavor of the cherry filling to an apple or peach pie, being at the perfect level of tartness. If you have fresh cherries and want to make pie, I highly recommend doing so.

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