Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sour Cherries are Here... Yummm!

If you live in Bucks County, PA and you like sour cherries, get to a farmers market right away!  The season is really short, and you don't want to miss it.  Buy extra and freeze them - you can use the frozen berries later in the summer.  Sour cherries are usually too tart to eat raw, but they make excellent pies, preserves, and crisps.

I found sour cherries at a really small road-side stand in Hilltown Township (on Creamery Road between Rickert and Callowhill Roads).  If you live close, it's worth checking.  They were $4 for an overflowing quart-size container- bring exact change because there is just a lock box type of thing to leave your money.  They also had black raspberries and blueberries.  If you don't live close, you can check
to find a farm or market near you.  Call first to see if they have sour cherries.
Yes, you will need to pit the cherries before using them.  I will admit, it is a pain, but I figure I only have do it once a year during sour cherry season.  I just use an unfolded large paperclip to take the pits out.  Remove the stem from the cherry, insert the paperclip in the stem end of the cherry, give it a little bit of a turn around the pit, then pop the pit out!
My favorite thing to make with sour cherries is pie.  The almond extract is optional, but I really think it "makes" this pie - almonds and cherries go so well together!

Sour Cherry Pie

Pastry dough for 8 in. 2 crust pie (recipe below)
1 cup sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
4 cups fresh sour cherries, pitted
1/4 tsp. almond extract (optional)
1 Tbs. butter

1.  Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line pie pan with 1/2 of the pastry dough.

2.  Mix together the pitted cherries, flour, and sugar until the cherries are well-coated.  Pour mixture into pie shells.  Sprinkle almond extract over the cherry mixture.  Cut butter into small pieces and dot over the cherry mixture.  Use second half of pastry dough to make lattice top for the pie.  Crimp edges.
Optional:  Brush top crust with beaten egg white and sprinkle with sugar for a nice presentation.

3.  Bake for 10 minutes.  Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake 30-40 minutes more until crust is browned and pie is done.  Tip:  Bake on the 2nd lowest rack position in the oven.  Set pie on cookie sheet if it starts to spill over in the oven.

Pastry for Double Crust 8 in. Pie

2 cups all-purpose flour (I like King Arthur brand)
1/2 tsp. salt
2/3 cup shortening (I like to use organic, trans-fat free, non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening)
1/3 cup cold water

1.  Mix flour and salt.  Cut in shortening with a pastry blender or two knives.  Combine until mixture forms small peas-sized clumps.  Use a tablespoon to sprinkle the cold water over the flour mixture, 1 Tablespoon at a time.  Mix lightly with a fork as you add the water; do not overmix.  The mixture should be just moist enough that it will hold together when pressed gently into a ball.  It will still be slightly crumbly.

2.  Divide the dough into two balls.  Roll bottom crust out in a circle two inches larger than the pie pan.  Gently lift the crust into the pie pan and fit it to the pan.  Roll out second ball of pastry.  Cut into lattice strips with pizza cutter or knife.  Fill pie according to recipe.  Cover pie with lattice crust strips.  Bake as indicated in recipe.

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