First, plant a tree and wait for ten or twelve years. Stick with sour or tart cherry varieties like ‘Montmorency’ because Oklahoma is no place for a sweet cherry tree. ‘Bing’ will go bang the first time we have a drought. Believe me, I know because I tried it. Sweet cherries like wetter and cooler places than the southern plains.
Then, sometimes, life is a bowl of cherries, and when it happens (only twice in 15 years due to late freezes), what do you do with all this sour cherry goodness?
You make a magnificent cherry pie. Mine is gluten and dairy free too, but feel free to make your own pie crust.
I adapted my recipe from The Black Family Reunion Cookbook: Recipes and Food Memories, put out by the National Council of Negro Women. I picked up my copy in 1991, and it is simply one of the best southern cookbooks on my shelf. Their cherry pie is made from canned cherries, but you just change a thing or two. Also, the Classic Lemon Meringue Pie recipe is to die for. It is my sister’s favorite pie, and the recipe has a secret to the meringue to keep it from falling.
Now, back to the cherry pie.
Fresh Sour Cherry Pie
Your double crust recipe. I used The Gluten-Free Pantry Perfect Pie Crust Mix, 16-Ounce Boxes (Pack of 6). It always turns out great. Just remember to roll it out between two pieces of plastic wrap. Leave one on, turn the pie plate upside down on top of it, support the plastic coated crust and then flip it back over. Otherwise, the crust is too tender and will fall apart.
4 cups sour cherries, washed, stemmed and pitted
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar or lemon juice
1 tablespoon of Earth Balance non-dairy margarine or butter
3 to 4 drops of red food coloring
One egg yolk beaten with two tablespoons of almond milk
Sugar for dusting.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
Combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, vanilla extract and vinegar in a bowl. Let them sit until cherries start to juice. Spoon into unbaked pie shell. Top with butter or margarine if desired. Cover with top crust and flute edges. Cut slits in the center to allow steam to escape. Brush top crust with egg/almond milk and dust with sugar.
Bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Reduce temperature to 350 degrees F for 45 minutes until pie filling is bubbling and crust is golden brown.
Cool to barely warm or to room temperature before serving.
If you can eat ice cream, this pie is very good served with a scoop. Now, you just need fireworks, and you’re ready for the 4th of July.