Fresh Cherry Pie Filling

Now that you have the perfect pie crust, it’s time to introduce you to the first of many perfect pie fillings. I seem to find a lot of recipes that use canned cherry pie filling so I thought I’d start with cherries. Well that and cherries seem to be breeding in my fridge faster then I can eat them these days.

Cherries are in-season in Canada right now, though we have been getting them from the US for the last month or two. As a note, cherries continue to ripen once they are picked so it is important to look for firm cherries with bright green stems to ensure freshness and optimal flavor. And naturally, y’all probably know that cherries have pits and while it isn’t too hard to use a paring knife to remove the them, I find a cherry pitter to be a virtually indispensable tool when you are pitting a number of cherries.

This filling is pretty easy to put together; the cherry pitting is the hardest part. However, when I first tested this recipe, I used minute tapioca and while Collin Murray wasn’t bothered by the tiny granules that didn’t dissolve in baking. For a smoother texture in the end product, I would be inclined to use cornstarch as a thickener instead.

Collin Murray has been waiting for me to make him a “real pie” for a long, long time and this cherry pie filling combined with the perfect pie crust didn’t disappoint him. The filling isn’t like canned filling – the flavor is much less sugar and much more cherry and in my opinion is pretty darn tasty too.

Fresh Cherry Pie Filling (adapted from the Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook)

Makes enough for one heaping 9-inch pie

4 cups fresh cherries, pitted

¾ cup granulated sugar

3 tablespoons quick cooking tapioca or cornstarch

1 tablespoon kirsh (optional)

Zest of one lemon

Pinch of salt

Perfect Pie Crust, rolled into a 9-inch pie plate and docked with a fork

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients, mix and allow to stand for 20 to 30 minutes at room temperature.

Preheat oven to 375˚F. Turn cherry filling into the prepared pie crust, top with lattice top and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.

Enjoy with or without ice cream.

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