Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cherries, Cherries

 This year, I had the distinct honor of going out to my auntie & uncle's farm to pick pie cherries. I was absolutely delighted to be able to go out and pick some to bring home, despite the fact I didn't like cherry pie... I guess I was thinking I could just eat them or make pie for my mom who LOVES cherry pie!  So basically, I knew not the difference between 'cherries' and 'pie cherries' even; just another opportunity to learn!

A 'pie cherry' is generally very small with a thin skin. From the stories I've heard, when you pick them, juice just runs down your arm. They are usually quite tart as well, which makes them perfect for pies and desserts.

After probably 15 minutes of picking with family, we had a whole basket FULL of these small delicate, juicy, and vibrantly red fruits. We ate a few - not too tart to enjoy - and brought the rest home. We've been slowly munching on them and I've come to appreciate their unique combination of tart and sweet.

Yesterday, my mom made a surprise visit, and was able to spend the night with us! I was so excited to have her here that I wanted to make her her favorite pie: cherry. So I recruited her help with pitting, and got to work!

I don't own a cherry pitter so I was using a stone fruit knife. Needless to say, it took forever just to do a few of these small cherries. So my mom decided to share an old trick with me that they used whenever they made cherry pies; get a straw and just push the pit through. Heeding her advice, I scrounged up some plastic straws and prepared us for work.

Me & my mom pitting cherries on
the back patio
The cherries I picked were sweeter than most pie cherries, according to my mom. Their difference did just stop there though; they also had a much tougher skin than usual. So when we tried to poke the straw into the cherry, all that happened was we bent it! Well now...applying the same concept, I knew I must have something around the house that was a little stronger. My solution: the hard plastic straws from the reusable plastic drinking cups. And low-and-behold, we had found our cherry pitter!! We dove right into that basket of cherries.

Once we had pitted enough for a pie, I went inside and got to work!

Cherry pie!

I made a standard Crisco double crust for the pie. For the filling, I used 4 cups of cherries, 1/3 cup flour, almond extract to taste (several large glugs for us!! :), only 1/2 cup of sugar since the cherries were already sweet, and just a squeeze of fresh lime juice. I mixed it all up and filled my bottom crust. I gently placed the top crust over the berries, cut several decorative air vents in the top, and put it in the oven. Forty-five long minutes later, it was done!

Since I don't usually enjoy cherry pie, I was very hesitant to try this one. But, since I made it...I had to try it:) So I pulled a little container of home-made ice cream from the freezer and served up that warm pie a la mode!

When I took the first bite, I nearly hit the floor! Cherry pie from fresh cherries tastes nothing like the store pies or a pie made with canned cherry filling! It is sweet, tart, creamy and chewy deliciousness when the first bite hits your tongue. The complete and true flavor of the cherries just blossoms, instead of being suffocated by red food-dye and a metallic taste (personal opinion though!).

So now when my mom asks to have cherry pie for her birthday dessert, instead of turning up my nose in disgust, I will eagerly proclaim: "I'll make it!!"

Thanks mom for sharing your wisdom and love with me!
Thanks Jojo & Ron for the wonderful cherries!

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