The first answer to this question is obvious: You buy a cherry-pitter. After that, you’re on your own.
Last weekend, Mike and I took advantage of the gorgeous summer weather to go cherry picking at Hartland Orchard in Markham, VA. After a few hours in the sunshine, we came home loaded with twelve pounds of sour pie cherries (montmorency cherries, to be exact). Clearly a pie was in order.
The Sweet Melissa Baking Book, my go-to source for good baking recipes, had a recipe I’ve been wanting to try since this winter: sour cherry pie with pistachio crumble. Yes please.
The recipe involves three basic parts: make piecrust, make sour cherry filling, make pistachio crumble. As much as I love to bake, I’m incredibly intimidated by making piecrust from scratch (although after reading this recipe from The Bitten Word, I’m willing to give it a shot) so we opted for a decent quality store-bought crust in the freezer section.
The sour cherry filling was a breeze. Once Mike wrapped up the time-consuming task of pitting all our cherries, putting together the filling was pretty simple (recipe below). More importantly, the results were fantastic. The cherries stayed firm in the baking but sweetened up considerably. Even better, the fruit didn’t have that heavy, corn-syrup slickness you get from store-bought pie fillings. The pistachio crumble added a great crunch and touch-of-salt and color to the pie. Overall this is absolutely something I’d make again.
The trouble is even with two servings of pie fillings, that only took care of 4 pounds of cherries. What to do with the other 8 pounds? As much as I love them in recipes, sour cherries are just a little too tart for snacking. But we were loathe to let any fruit this gorgeous go to waste. Mike and I knew we had one foolproof option: Booze.
Last summer, Mike and I learned the joys of jarring fresh fruit with a liquor simple syrup with this ginger bourbon peach recipe. Taking a similar route with the cherries, we mixed up a batch of bourbon simple syrup (recipe below) and poured them into about 8 jars of cherries. The results? Boozie deliciousness. Side by side, I prefer the ginger bourbon peach recipe which can work as a dessert topping or on its own. The bourbon cherries are a little strong but they’d make a great housewarming or host gift for anyone who appreciates a well-stocked liquor cabinet. Plus they are just so damn pretty.
Sweet Melissa’s Sour Cherry Pie with Pistachio Crumble
1) In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup sugar, 3 Tb cornstarch, and 1/4 ts of salt.
2) In a medium bowl, place about 2 lbs of cherries and sprinkle the flour mixture over the top. Mix gently (very gently! You don’t want to mash your beautiful fresh fruit!) to combine. Taste mixture and add sugar if necessary.
3) Pour cherries into unbaked pie shell.
Next step, pistachio crumble. Also pretty easy:
1) In a medium bowl, combine 1/2 cup of flour (the recipe calls for all-purpose but we use whole wheat flour with good results), 2/3 cup of oat flour (just regular oats ground in your food processor – totally easy), 1/2 cup of sugar, 1/2 ts of cinnamon, 1/2 ts of salt, 3/4 cup of unsalted whole pistachios ground in a food processor (I did the oats and the pistachios at the same time and it worked out fine).
2) Add 6 Tb of unsalted butter, melted and cooled to the bowl and mix to combine.
3) Sprinkle crumble over the top of cherres.
To finish up, bake for about 1 hr and 10 minutes at 350°.
Bourbon Sour Cherries
1) Place cherries in clean mason jars (pitting is recommended)
2) Pour 1 part bourbon, 2 parts sugar and 4 parts water into a saucepan. Bring to a boil; 5 minutes.
3) Pour bourbon syrup over fruit. Seal jars.
4) Store in a cool, dark place OR devour immediately in fancy Manhattans and root beer floats. Your call.