Their season is incredibly short. 3 maybe 4 weeks?
Last Friday I was at the Union Square green market and had picked out 2 quarts, a quart of Apricots and a pint of sweet Bing cherries. While I was waiting to pay I noticed a large stack of flats of sour cherries behind the check out table. My total choice of fruit was $38. Before I paid I asked what a flat of sour cherries would go for.
“I’ll give you the wholesale price: $40 for the flat”
A brazen little girl approached me and asked me if she could have a cherry.
“Sure, but these are not sweet cherries these are sour cherries that you cook with” I said as I handed her a prize cherry.
The minute she heard the word sour she dropped the cherry back into the flat and ran back to her mother, much to the amusement of the other people on the bus.Before I could make any wonderful cherry filled treat with my jackpot of cherries I had to pit them (ugh). My friend Debby was a trooper and came over and helped me with 2 quarts.
The first mistake is only having one cherry pitter.
Stem, rinse, pit repeat. I spread it out over 3 days.
Even with a cherry pitter there is a bit of an art to making sure every cherry is pitted. Sometimes pits can be tricky.
The first two quarts I pitted immediately became a pie. Melissa Clark’s: Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie to be exact. She’s taken your basic pie recipe and made it with a butter rich pastry which she first blind bakes as you would a pâte brisée for a tart. The end result is you don’t have soggy pie bottom. And lets face it: who is a fan of soggy pie bottom?
The other thing I love about this recipe is the filling isn’t the overly sweet gloopy mess you get when you buy pie filling in a can or jar. Of course if you want you could easily increase the sugar in this by up to a 1/3 of a cup. But for my taste this is just perfect. And don’t forget when you serve a slice the scoop of vanilla ice cream or dollop of Chantilly cream will also add sweetness.
Melissa Clark’s Twice-Baked Sour Cherry Pie
In the bowl of a food processor add: 1 3/4 cups plus 2 Tablespoons of all purpose flour, a scant 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt and pulse to combine. Then add: 15 tablespoons of unsalted cold butter cut into chunks, pulse a few time until the butter is starting to incorporate with the flour mixture, but there are still visible chunks.
1 tablespoon at a time add ice-cold water, after each addition pulse. It should take around 3-6 Tablespoons. Once the dough has come together remove from the food processor and divide into two pieces, 2/3 and 1/3. Flatten into discs, wrap in parchment or recycled plastic and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 425 F
On a lightly floured surface roll out the large piece of dough into a 12″ circle and 1/2″ thick (give or take). Transfer it into a 9″ pie dish. Line the dish with foil or parchment and fill with pie weights or beans.And bake for 30 minutes, the crust should be nicely golden.While it is baking make the filling.
In a large bowl add: a generous 6 cups of rinsed, pitted, sour cherries. Fold in 1/4 teaspoon of cinnamon, 1 – 1 1/4 cups of sugar, 3 Tablespoons of instant tapioca (or organic corn starch really if need be you could use flour as well) and 1 Tablespoon of Kirsch (or Brandy). Ms Clark processes her dry ingredients in a food processor to get consistent fine texture. My experience with instant tapioca is that it isn’t necessary, up to you. If you use corn starch you certainly don’t need to.
Remove the cooked crust to a wire rack and turn the oven to 375 F. When the pie has cooled enough remove the weights and add the filling.
On a lightly floured surface roll out the smaller part of the rough and cut out rounds for the top. Use different sizes and feel free to be as creative as you want. I went with three sizes in a very simple pattern.Brush your creative masterpiece with heavy cream (about 3 Tablespoons) and sprinkle generously with Demerara sugar. I had none so used organic cane sugar.
Bake until the top is nicely browned and the filling is thick and bubbling, about 50 minutes to an hour.Remove from the oven and cool on a rack for at least 2 hours to allow the filling to set. Serve at room temperature with sweetened whip cream or vanilla ice cream.The rest of the cherries got frozen. First on a sheet tray to prevent them from clouding together, then into freezer bags. In total after the pie I had about 4 1/4 pounds. Some of the things I plan to make with these over the coming months are Sour Cherry Almond Tart, Sour Cherry Pineapple upside-down Cake, Sour Cherry Chocolate Cake and of course crumble!
I saw sour cherries at the market today so if you hurry it’s not too late!