You’ve heard of having sour apples. You’ve probably heard of having sour grapes. But . . . have you heard of having sour CHERRIES?
Eh . . . sadly, very few people have. Sour cherries are one of those gorgeous, heirloom-variety type fruits that your grandparents probably grew in their back yards, bemoaning the red-hued bird poop that adorned their cars. Meanwhile, the birds rejoiced and went back for seconds. And thirds. 😉
My Grandma had a big, gorgeous sour cherry tree for years. Sadly, the tree is gone now, but the memories of those cherry pies remain. Right around this time, when we start to see cherries in the store, I always get a taste for those cherry pies I remember . . . but no one ever seems to have sour cherries, anymore.
*Grouchy sour face* There. You have sour apples, sour grapes, and now a sour face to add to your collection.
But not one to let a little sour cherry dearth (Yes. “Dearth” means shortage. I did not make a typo of the word “death,” Auto Correct) get me down, I decided to see if I could make cherry pie filling out of sweet cherries (such as Bing cherries), since that’s all my local grocery store had. So I reduced the sugar, since these cherries are already sweet, and I added some lemon juice to punch up the acidity, like you’d find in an authentic sour cherry filling . . . and voila! It’s not quite the same as the perfect sour cherry filling, but it’s not bad. In fact . . . I’d say it was pretty darned good. 😉 Don’t mess with the canned cherry pie filling anymore– a can full of goop and a few berries floating forlornly inside. Make your own cherry pie filling– absolutely loaded down with berries and busting at the seams with fresh, cherry flavor.
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Sweet Cherry Pie Filling
4 cups sweet cherries, washed and pitted
1/2 cup sugar
1 lemon, juiced
1/4 tsp. almond extract
1/4 cup cornstarch + 1-2 tbsp. water to make a liquid
Combine cherries, sugar, lemon juice, and almond extract in a medium saucepan. Heat on medium low heat until cherries have released juice and mixture is bubbling. Add just enough water to cornstarch to make it a milky liquid and stir into hot cherry mixture. Stir until mixture thickens (about a minute), and then remove from heat and cool until ready to use.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
Haha. Sorry– I know this is gross, but I had to take a picture of my grisly, macabre cutting board and fingers after pitting 4 cups of cherries. It looked like I murdered someone. *Everyone suspiciously turns on “America’s Most Wanted” looking for my face . . .*
Naw– I’m a lover, not a fighter. 😉 Pitting cherries takes a while and leaves odd, “blood spatter” looking marks on random spots in the kitchen. You may have some explaining to do to the neighbors. But it’s worth it.
Take your 4 cups of pitted, washed cherries, and add in the sugar, lemon juice, and almond extract. Throw those babies together into a medium saucepan. I found that 1/2 cup of sugar worked well for my cherries, but if you’re concerned that your pie filling will be too sweet, you can start with 1/4 cup of sugar and add more after tasting if you need to. Heat the berry mixture on medium low heat for a little while until the cherries start to get nice and juicy and the mixture starts to bubble.
If you’ve read any of my ramblings on here for any length of time, you know that I have a love/hate relationship with cornstarch. Cornstarch is useful in many things . . . but it is MESSY. No matter how careful you are, you will end up wearing cornstarch before the night is done. Eck . . . it’s the nature of the beast, unfortunately. Place your cornstarch into a small bowl and mix in just enough water to make the cornstarch behave and kind of turn into a milk-looking substance. Stir the cornstarch liquid into your hot cherry mixture.
And this part is pretty cool . . . stir the cherry mixture, and suddenly it will be thick. It only takes a minute to reach this stage, so keep stirring all around the bottom of the pan, and when it thickens up like pie filling . . . take that baby off the heat, ’cause she’s done!
At this point you can cover and refrigerate your pie filling for a later use, or you can go right ahead and make adorable little cherry pies right now. Yes. Who are we kidding, here. Make pies now, so you can EAT pies later. You can call this a new rule to live by.
So whether you like it lovely and light . . .
Or whether you like it as dark as night . . .
Or whether you say “that’s a lot of pictures,” and you might be right . . .
Life really may be a bowl full of cherries. Hehe. Sorry– I couldn’t resist 😉 And I had so many cute cherry pictures that I’m waffling, here, to caption them all.
So cut yourself a big, beautiful piece of classic cherry pie. Dig out a scoop of vanilla ice cream– the good stuff– the kind that is so rich it’s almost yellow. YUM. Sit back and have a nice, big bite– and make sure you get some ice cream on each bite. Cherries and ice cream. It’s the way life is meant to be.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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