Congratulations! You’ve had a successful day at the farmer’s market without stepping on one small child, errant dog, or hipster photographer with multi-camera setup. You have vegetables and fruit and cheese and bread enough to stuff yourself and any lucky friends silly for the rest of the week. And joy! Sour cherries, your favorite summer treat, are finally in season.
Now you stand staring at four quarts overflowing on your counter as they plot to take over the rest of your kitchen. You decide to…
- Stay the known course. You have a favorite sour cherry crostata for a reason. Go to page 34.
- Throw down the gauntlet. There’s no better time to put your pie-crust-making skills to the test than with near-90s temps (and nearly as high humidity levels). Go to page 22.
- Go outside and enjoy a pretty pink drink. Summer is too short to spend too long in the kitchen anyways. Go to page 41.
- Question your sanity and life choices. Admit subservience to your cherry overlords and enlist your ever-expanding liquor shelf to make something boozy that requires zero effort (even if it does take a few weeks to get results). Go to page 65.
1 double 9″ pie crust (I use my go-to pie crust–no failures with this yet!)
2 generous quarts sour cherries (about 3 pounds, pitted)
3/4 cup sugar (or more to taste)
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 tablespoons water
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tablespoons butter
1 egg, beaten, with 2 tablespoons cream
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large bowl, combine cherries, sugar, cornstarch, almond extract, water, and lemon juice. Mix thoroughly and allow to set for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, roll out pie crust, fit into a pie tin, and return to the fridge. Roll out the top crust and lay it on a foil-covered pan (cut into strips if doing a lattice crust) and return to the fridge.
Strain juices from cherries into a pan and bring just to a simmer, or until the sauce has thickened, stirring regularly to keep it from scorching. Turn off the heat and add the cherries to the pan, stirring well to combine.
Remove the pie crust from the fridge, pour in cherry filling, and dot with butter. Brush edges of crust with egg/cream mixture then lay the top crust over (or lattice). Brush top of crust with egg/cream and sprinkle with sugar. Cut vents in top crust.
Place pie on a foil-lined baking sheet before placing it in the oven. Bake for 30 minutes. Reduce the heat to 350 and bake for another 25-35 minutes, or until the juices bubble up through the crust and the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely before serving.
Sour Cherry Syrup
This recipe is courtesy of a fabulous friend who regularly clips out the Sunday recipe section of the Chicago Tribune for me, which recently did a piece on sour cherries. My version of this syrup is simpler than the one in the paper and gets you outside with your drink faster. This made about 4 cups, and could easily be scaled up or down as long as you keep the proportions the same. The cherries can also be reserved for adding to drinks later.
4 cups sour cherries, pitted
2 cups sugar
2 cups water
Combine ingredients in a pan, bring to a simmer and cook for 20 minutes. Strain, cool, pour into a bottle, and refrigerate. Add a few tablespoons of syrup to a glass of seltzer for a pretty pink summer drink, or fancy it up with a little lemon or lime (or vodka).
Did you know those sweet neon red treats topping your ice cream or garnishing your Shirley Temple (was this a “grown up” treat to anyone else at Chinese restaurants as a kid?) were boozy before the 1940s?
Sour cherries, pitted or not
Maraschino liqueur (about half a bottle for two pint jars)
Fill a jar with cherries. Top off with liqueur (you can bring the liqueur just to a simmer first if you feel like it; the flavor of sour cherries is more pronounced after they’re warmed). Stick in the back corner of your fridge for at least two weeks. (So far mine have been sitting for about 4 days, so I can’t actually vouch for this recipe yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know how it turns out!)