Homemade Triple Cherry Pie.
This fresh homemade cherry pie recipe combines sour cherries, sweet cherries & dried cherries in a flaky, sugary crust.
True confessions: Most of the cherry pies I have made in my life were made with canned cherry pie filling. Honestly, it was the thought of pitting all those cherries that kept me reaching for the can opener instead of fresh cherries. Although, that’s not entirely true…
I really like canned cherry pie filling. And I’m not talking about those awesome jars of cherry pie filling you find at farmer’s markets, that are made by real people (in my imagination, always cute white haired grandmothers in frilly aprons, pitting cherries while offering you a plate of warm chocolate chip cookies), with pronounceable ingredients and gorgeously ripe, whole fruit. That’s not the kind of cherry pie filling I’m talking about.
I’m taking about those cheap cans of cherry pie filling that line a shelf or two in the baking isle of supermarkets everywhere. You know… the kind where corn syrup and artificial colors and flavors are sometimes listed before actual cherries. Sigh. I know I shouldn’t… and yet, store bought canned cherry pie filling is a little like a hostess chocolate cupcake for me – way too sweet and totally artificial tasting, and yet, somehow, soooooo freaking delicious.
When I was a girl, my grandparents lived in a house situated in the middle of an old sour cherry orchard. Most of the cherry trees were long gone, but on the side of the house, a few rows remained. Every year, when the cherry tree branches were heavy with ripe cherries, we would visit my grandparents and pick buckets of cherries. After hauling them home, my mom would put on a movie or a favorite tv show and go to work pitting pound after pound of cherries, sealing them in bags for the freezer so that we could have fresh cherry pie year round.
Those cherry pies were delicious.
And then my grandparents moved, so there were no more fresh sour cherries, and my mom started making her cherry pies with canned pie filling. So, my love of canned cherry pie filling is her fault really. You see that, don’t you?
Earlier this month, my husband and I took a 12 day motorcycle trip, from Denver to Pagosa Springs, to Flag Staff and the Grand Canyon, to Desert Hot Springs, CA, up the Pacific Coast Highway to San Francisco and then home through Nevada and Utah. We rode just over 3600 miles and experienced everything from pouring rain, to crazy strong wind, to 106 degree desert heat. It was awesome. Awesome, awesome, can’t-wait-to-get-back-out-there, awesome.
One day, we stopped at an adorable little farm with BBQ and picnic tables and a bakery case full of homemade pies, crisps and turnovers. My husband and I ordered a warm cherry turnover and a huge scoop of vanilla ice cream. The turnover filling was both tart and sweet, and bursting with juicy chunks of sour cherries.
It put the canned stuff to shame and made me nostalgic for the fresh cherry pies of my childhood.
When our trip was over and we were (at least somewhat) settled back into normal life, I buried myself in the task of making a really great fresh cherry pie. In my book, this is it. Here’s what I like about this recipe: it contains frozen sour cherries, fresh sweet cherries and dried cherries. The three cherry combination gives it a variety of flavors and textures while retaining a deep, rich cherry flavor. I think it’s a great combination, but as always, you have options: Use only sour or only sweet cherries. Omit the dried cherries altogether. Use fresh or frozen cherries. Use some frozen and some fresh cherries (as I did). The only thing that should remain consistent is the quantity of fruit. The combination and type of cherries is entirely up to you.
Because this recipe calls for cooking the filling before pouring it into the pie shell, you have the opportunity to taste the filling before baking the pie and adjust as necessary. If you choose to use all sour cherries, you might want to add a bit more sugar. Taste and adjust. If you choose to use all sweet cherries, you might want to start out with 1/4 cup less sugar. Cook the filling as directed, and then add more if you like.
The other advantage to cooking the filling before pouring it into the pie shell is the ability to adjust the consistency before the pie is baked. If your cherries happen to be extra juicy, you might need to add a bit more tapioca and corn starch. If you want a runnier filling, just use a bit less cornstarch and tapioca. I like the fruit in my pie to mostly stay in the shell after slicing. If you prefer a more liquid consistency to your cherry pie filling, just reduce the amount of tapioca and corn starch by about 1/3.
If, after cooking the filling, you’re not sure if it’s the consistency you like, just remove a small amount to a bowl and place it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to cool. Once cool, check to see if the filling is of the consistency and sweetness you prefer. The bottom line: err on the side of too little sugar and too little thickener. You can always add more of both. Cook the filling, taste and adjust.
Finally, a word about cherries. Pitting them is kind of a pain in the ass. I was lucky enough to find pre-pitted frozen sour cherries at my local farmer’s market. But, I still had to pit the sweet cherries. It takes a bit of time, but it’s worth it. You also might look at the cost of dried cherries and reconsider including them at all. You can, in fact, leave them out all together and your cherry pie will still be delicious. But, I urge you to make this pie once with the dried cherries before deciding if the extra cost is worth it. The dried cherries add an unexpected chewiness to the filling that I love. I think you will too.
Other recipes you might like:
- Cherry Turnovers with cream cheese and roasted almonds
- The BEST Apple Pie
- Fresh Blueberry Pie
- Fresh Raspberry Pie
For even more delicious pie recipes, follow my Pie Recipes Board on Pinterest.
- 1 recipe Fool Proof Pie Crust, chilled for at least 30 minutes in the refrigerator
- 2½ cups pitted sour cherries
- 2 cups pitted sweet cherries
- 1 cup dried sour cherries
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- 2½ tbsp quick cooking tapioca
- 1½ tbsp cornstarch
- ½ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp pure almond extract
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 2 tbsp milk
- 2 tbsp granulated sugar, for sprinkling
- Roll out and partially pre-bake the bottom pie crust according to these instructions. Set aside to cool while you make the cherry pie filling.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- In a medium size, heavy bottom saucepan, add the sweet, sour and dried cherries, sugar, tapioca, cornstarch and nutmeg. Stir gently with a wooden spoon to combine. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thickened and boiling.
- Remove from the heat and stir in the almond and vanilla extracts. Pour the filling into the partially-baked bottom pie shell. Dot the surface of the cherry pie filling with small pea-size pieces of the butter.
- Remove the remaining pie dough from the refrigerator and, on a well floured surface, roll out a portion of the dough into a large circle, about 18 inches. With a pizza wheel, fluted pizza wheel or paring knife, cut the disk into 12½-inch wide strips.
- Starting in the center of the pie, lay half the strips across the top of the filling in one direction, than lay the other half of the strips across the pie, perpendicular to the first. Trim the edges of the strips so that they are even with the edge of the bottom crust.
- Roll a section of the remaining pie dough into a thin, ½-inch thick rope, about 32 inches long. Lie the rope around the edge of the pie, covering the edges of the lattice strips completely. Press the rope gently onto the edge of the pie. With one hand on the inside of the edge and one hand on the outside, use the index finger of your inside hand to push the dough between the thumb and index finger of your other hand to form a U or a V shape. Continue this crimping motion around the entire edge.
- Using a pastry brush, gently brush the crust with milk and sprinkle evenly with the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar.
- Put the pie on a baking sheet (to catch any drips) and place in the oven. Bake for 40 minutes. Rotate the pie in the oven and bake for an additional 30-40 minutes. The pie is done when the crust is golden brown and the filling is bubbling.
- Remove from the oven and cool completely on a wire rack for at least 2 hours before slicing. The pie can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, but is best served slightly warm or at room temperature.