The season for fresh cherries is pretty short so if you like cherries you want to make the most of the time you have them, which is right now. For me cherries are great to just snack on, but there are lots of great things you can do with them as well. They make a great addition to dishes using duck or pork, but naturally everyone thinks of dessert right away when they think of cherries. I am a big pie fan myself, so making cherry pie seems like the natural thing to do. Now the idea of pitting several pounds of cherries does not really appeal to me, as I am sure it doesn’t for a lot of people. However, if you really like cherry pie and want to make some of your own, you can make a good compromise and use some frozen cherries mixed with fresh cherries. The frozen cherries, like most frozen fruit, are packaged and frozen when the cherries are ripe so they have good flavor and the pitting has already been done for you. If you mix this together with some fresh cherries you pit yourself, it makes things a lot easier. If you really want to streamline things, and I did, it is worth investing in a good cherry pitter. I have one from OXO that does a fantastic job instead of doing it myself with a paring knife and ending up with cherry stained hands and cramps in my fingers. Once you have a plan for your cherries, you want to try this cherry pie recipe from Serious Eats. It’s the best cherry pie recipe I have ever tried.
Homemade Cherry Pie
For the Filling:
5 heaping cups pitted cherries from about 2 pounds whole fruit (6 heaping cups), or a mix of frozen cherries and fresh pitted cherries
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice from 1 small lemon
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon tapioca starch
Pie dough from your favorite recipe for a double crust or 2 store-bought pie crusts
For the Egg Wash:
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
To Serve (optional):
Fresh or store-bough whipped cream
For the filling: Combine the pitted cherries, lemon juice, sugar, salt, and tapioca starch in a large bowl, folding the ingredients with a flexible spatula until they are well combined. Scrape the cherries into the prepared pie shell and top with the remaining dough, using a solid sheet, cutouts, or a lattice-top design. Trim away the excess dough and refrigerate the pie to ensure that the top crust is completely chilled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and pre-heat to 400 degrees.
For the egg wash (if using): Whisk the egg, egg yolk, heavy cream, and salt in a small bowl. Brush the wash over the chilled top crust in a thin, even layer. This will give the crust a glossy, golden sheen, but it is not necessary in any way.
Place the chilled pie on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake the pie in the oven until the crust is golden, about 1 hour, then loosely cover the pie with tented foil. Alternatively, an empty baking sheet can be placed on the topmost rack of the oven to serve as a shield. Continue baking the pie until the filling is bubbling even in the very center of the pie, about 15 minutes more. If the crust completely covers filling, bake the pie until the pie reaches an internal temperature of 213 degrees on an instant-read digital thermometer inserted into the pie. The time can vary considerably depending on the thickness and type of pie plate, the amount of top crust, how long the pie was refrigerated, etc.
To serve: Cool the pie until it is no warmer than 85 degrees on an instant-read digital thermometer inserted into the pie, about 3 hours depending on the type of pie plate you use. At higher temperatures, the filling will be runny and thin. Slice the pie into wedges with a sharp knife, pressing firmly against the bottom and sides of the pie plate to ensure the under-crust is completely cut. If you like, serve the pie with whipped cream. Wrapped in foil, the leftovers will keep up to 3 days at room temperature; warm the pie for 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven to revive the crust before serving.
This pie turned out perfectly. In the past when I have made cherry pie, even if I used cornstarch or tapioca, it always seemed to run too much. This one held together perfectly, even with using frozen cherries that I thought for sure would bleed out. The tapioca was just the right amount and chilling the pie for 30 minutes before cooking seemed to help in holding everything together and making the perfect crust. You can mix and match the cherries to suit what you like, using sweet and sour cherries if you like. A couple of things to note that Serious Eats comments on: first, the ratio of fruit to sugar in this recipe helps to boost the tapioca starch so that it gelatinizes well. Second, use a glass pie plate if you can because it helps to crisp the bottom crust well so it cuts nicely and holds up. A final note from me is that I used instant tapioca since I couldn’t find tapioca starch at any local store here. I was worried about how well it would work instead of tapioca starch but all went well for me. This pie is easily one of my favorites.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!