There was a time, when I was a youngster, I didn’t like cherry pie. Or pretty much cherry anything. I couldn’t really “get it” because I love cherries. If you’ve noticed the same thing, this is going to rock your world.
It wasn’t until a neighbor dropped off a huge paper grocery bag of cherries that I figured out what was going on. Seriously, I was like 20, but even then I wasn’t going to waste something. I pitted all those cherries by hand with a knife, cooked them slightly, added some sugar and froze them.
When I made a cherry pie with them, it was an absolute revelation! It was amazing. l loved it and everyone else did, too. Turns out it wasn’t cherry pie I didn’t like – it was the “cherry pie filling” that people used.
I was recently faced with cherries about to go bad (I got excited when I saw them at the store and over bought – oh cherries I missed you all winter!) and I decided I wanted to make Cherry Cheesecake Bars. The recipe calls for Cherry Pie Filling, so I made my own. It’s easier than you’d think.
I’ve learned a few lessons over the years:
- If you want your cherries to be slightly cooked, you’ll have to simmer them before adding the cornstarch.
- Most of the filling recipes are based on canning recipes and require a certain amount of sugar. If you’re just cooking some up to use, the amount of sugar is up to you. Sour cherries may need more sugar than sweet.
- If you wish to multiply to portion & freeze, make the filling but don’t add the cornstarch. It doesn’t hold up when frozen. Add in the cornstarch after thawing and bring to a boil for a quick minute.
- Do get a cherry pitter – a little hand-held one is cheap and if you don’t want purple fingers, use a pair of medical type or food service gloves.
Cherry Pie Filling
- about 2 pounds fresh cherries, about 4 cups pitted
- 1/2 to 2/3 cup sugar
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1 cup water
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon almond extract, to taste
- 4 tablespoons cornstarch
In a saucepan over medium heat, combine cherries, water, lemon juice and sugar.
Bring to a boil; reduce heat to low and cook, stirring frequently, for several minutes or until cherries are at desired doneness.
Add cornstarch mixed with a little water and bring to a boil. The filling will thicken almost immediately.
Remove from heat, cool slightly and add the extract.
May be used as a topping or a pie filling. Keeps well for several days in the refrigerator, If stored too long, it may get watery.
Yield: 2 cups is about the same as a 21 ounce can of pie filling.
adapted from taste of home
I’ll be bringing this recipe to Fiesta Friday 178. Stop by and see all the fun posts and recipes (hint: you may find something for the 4th of July) and stop back on Tuesday to vote for you favorites.