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cherries for pie

Presuming it's not cherry season ( :-)
and I need something quick, does anyone have
any recommendations for good cherries for pie filling?
Frozen, canned, jar ?
Anybody have a dy-no-mite, favorite recipe?

Near me, we have a "small" TJ, Hubbel and Hudson,
and then all the usual other suspects, Kroger, HEB, Randall's
WM, etc etc etc

my sons are here for a weekend of football watching
and son #3 is requesting a Cherry Pie,
something I have only baked once before in my life....

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  1. If memory serves, when ATK or perhaps Cook's Country did cherry pie, they used fresh bing cherries because sour cherry availability is spotty. To perk up the milder flavor of the sweet cherries, they added a chopped-up unpeeled nectarine.

    So if you use non-fresh cherries, look for a fresh nectarine or this time of year, peach. It won't be good but doesn't need to be since it is there to add some tang.

    3 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      I've used bing cherries for pie. Added a lot of lemon juice for tartness. It just is missing that certain something.

      1. re: greygarious

        I made the ATK recipe during the Bing season last year - you puree two plums along with a handful of cherries and strain, then add that mixture to the remaining cherries (pitted and halved) along with a bit of extra lemon juice. It was ok, but not nearly as good as sour cherry pie. However, if you're making an out of season pie, it's a decent option.

        1. re: biondanonima

          Thanks for the correction. I had the red skin and orangey flesh in my mind's eye and didn't think plum but once I read your post I realized that's what they used.

      2. I would use frozen tart cherries.
        Not sure about a recipe, there are lots out there, depending on your taste.

        1. Yesterday I saw someone walking out of Costco with fresh cherries. They also carry frozen bags of cherries.

          1. My grandma used canned cherries, not cherry pie filling, to make her pies. I have never been able to find that type of canned cherry since I grew up.

            I made a dish called cranberry extraordinare once (for thanksgiving) and then later used that as a filling for a 'strudel'. It tasted much like her cherry filling.

            If you can't find the right kind of cherries, maybe throw a few raw cranberries in? If you can still find them, that is. If you're like me you'll have a couple of extra bags in the freezer.

            5 Replies
            1. re: thymetobake

              They keep the canned cherries with the canned peaches, pears, pineapple, etc. at my store instead of on the baking aisle.

              1. re: Becca Porter

                Thanks, Becca

                I've looked all over our stores and have determined that they just don't carry them here. Canned sour cherries aren't the only things they don't carry. Quite a few products I grew up with are unavailable here. Difference between states and city vs country, I guess.

                1. re: thymetobake

                  I see only the canned ones and only rarely in the Twin Cities, MN. But I have a freezerful of beautiful sour cherries that I purchased in Indiana. They were common at one point. I think things changed when people began baking less and instead wanted to eat sweet cherries out of hand.

                  1. re: thymetobake

                    Canned sour cherries have been harder and harder to find over the past few years. There are several major supermarket chains that simply don't carry them at all, even during the holiday season.

                    1. re: modthyrth

                      The Midwest tart cherry growers have had a tough time recently. The 2012 crop was practically decimated. The problem was caused by unseasonably warm weather in March (I remember grilling out around St. Patrick's day this year). The cherry trees responded by starting their fruit set. Then freezing temperatures came in April and destroyed the buds. Result -- practically no tart cherries to send to market.

              2. My nephew requests this pie for his birthday every year. His mom uses frozen sour cherries


                1. I've used the TJ jarred morello cherries for other baked desserts, and they are quite good.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: DrMag

                    This was the CI recommendation at one time.

                    1. re: DrMag

                      that would be my choice too. we keep a few jars around at all times.

                    2. Frozen sour cherries. Sugar and a tiny drop of almond extract. Your choice of thickener.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sandylc

                        Amen. Do not overcomplicate the beautiful simplicity of cherry pie.

                      2. Hi All:
                        Thanks for all the great replies!
                        I was able to find the "last" 4 cans of sour cherries at HEB at the very back of the highest shelf, and used the recipe link that foodieX2 provided.

                        The pie turned out amazing and "the Boys" loved it !!!
                        I had never used Minute Tapioca before, great result !!
                        The pie held together great, the tartness of the cherries with the sweetness of the vanilla bean ice cream was ooooooooo YUMMY !!!!

                        now if only the Broncos had won that game.......ugh.
                        Well, Maybe the SeaHawks will win tomorrow !!! :-)

                        3 Replies
                          1. re: oooYUM

                            That is so good to know, thank you for reporting back :).
                            So sorry the Broncos lost....what an upset and they looked like they were freezing in, what, 9 degree weather?

                            1. I use a variation on the CI recipe. Theirs called for cinnamon and allspice, and while I like a little spice in apple pie, or peach, I thought they detracted from the cherry flavor, so I leave them out. I also add more sugar--maybe I'm getting cherries that are more tart, but their version just wasn't nearly sweet enough for me. And they call for tapioca to thicken, but I prefer Instant Clear-Jel.

                              I always buy a bunch of sour pie cherries when they're in the local farmers markets in the summer. What I don't make into preserves, I freeze for pies--one pie's worth, with the lemon juice and zest, in each Seal-a-Meal bag. Some local (Seattle area) markets sell local sour cherries, frozen, all year--don't know if you'd find them in the freezer case anywhere else, but it's worth a look.

                              I haven't made a pie with Bing cherries, but I've tried them in other cooked dishes, and I didn't like the results. They're wonderful to eat, fresh, but cooked, they just seem to lose all their flavor and turn bland and flat. Pie cherries aren't easy to find--especially fresh--but they're worth it!

                              Here's my version of the CI recipe:

                              Not Quite Cooks Illustrated Cherry Pie

                              6 cups sour pie cherries (pitted), or 6 cups pitted frozen pie cherries
                              1 small lemon, zested to yield 1 teaspoon zest and juiced to yield 2 teaspoons juice
                              1/8 teaspoon almond extract
                              1 Tablespoon brandy
                              1-1/4 cup granulated sugar (1-3/4 cups if using fresh cherries)
                              1/4 cup Instant ClearJel
                              pastry for double-crust pie

                              Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.

                              Toss fruit with lemon juice and zest, almond extract, brandy, sugar, and ClearJel (ClearJel should be mixed with the sugar before adding it to the fruit); let stand for 15 minutes.

                              Roll bottom crust about 1/8-inch thick. Transfer and fit dough into a deep-dish glass pie pan, leaving dough that overhangs the lip in place. Freeze until firm.

                              Turn fruit mixture, including juices, into pie shell. Refrigerate until ready to top with remaining dough.

                              Roll top crust on lightly floured surface. Lay over fruit. Trim top and bottom dough edges to 1/2-inch beyond pan lip. Tuck this rim of dough underneath itself so that folded edge is flush with pan lip. Flute dough in your own fashion, or press with fork tines to seal. Cut four slits at right angles on dough top to allow steam to escape. Place in freezer for 10 minutes before baking.

                              Bake on the lowest oven rack for about one hour, or until golden brown. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees after the first 20 minutes.

                              Transfer pie to wire rack; let cool to almost room temperature so juices have time to thicken, from 1 to 2 hours.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: MsMaryMc

                                I was going to suggest cinnamon and or allspice. One doesn't use nearly as much as in an apple pie, but just a bit does deepen the flavor without detracting from the cherry. I did it the last time I made a berry pie, (combination cherry and cranberry). It was delish.

                                1. re: wyogal

                                  Definitely, tastes do differ! I went according to the CI recipe the first time and used them both, but never again since--didn't care for it at all. I do like their touch of almond extract, and the brandy, but that's enough for me.

                                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                                    I didn't follow their recipe and I only used a pinch.

                              2. There is a recipe somewhere for dried Montmorency/sour cherries (available from Costco) reconstituted by brief boiling in sour cherry juice that produces a passible sour cherry pie.

                                1. Wow, this thread really puts me in the mood for cherry pie. Growing up, my mom used to always make one for Washington's birthday, but I haven't continued the tradition. I think this year might be the year to start!