Homemade cherry pie filling made with fresh tart cherries beats buying canned filling any day. No preservatives and takes about 5 minutes to cook.
I’m an overachiever, and I hate buying pre-made food. I usually insist on making everything from scratch. That doesn’t mean I don’t do it, but most of the time, if it comes in a package or a mix, I make it homemade. Sometimes it works (cake, pudding, whipped cream), sometimes I fail (ladyfingers, anyone?). I also don’t like most canned foods. I do cook with canned tomatoes and mushrooms, but I pass on canned green beans or potatoes. Canned soup is disgusting. Now occasionally I do cheat, such as Watergate Salad (pistachio pudding mix and cool whip), but for the most part, I make from scratch. Take Homemade Cherry Pie Filling for example. You walk down the baking aisle and see cans of pie filling – apple, cherry, peach. What if I told you it takes longer to pit your cherries than to actually make this filling?
A few weekends ago, I went cherry picking. The sweet cherry crops got hit really bad with the frost (hence the high prices), but the sour cherries were fine. I ended up picking 6.81 pounds. As the name suggests, these cherries are sour and are hard to eat as a snack. However, they are perfect for baking. In fact, sour cherries are preferred for baking than sweet (although I did bake with sweet Rainer cherries last year).
This Cherry Pie Filling tastes just like the can except fresher and you can pronounce your ingredients. There is some red food coloring, but you can leave it out. Despite using sour cherries, the filling is sweet just like you would expect a pie to be. Although there are no spices in the recipe, if you know what you’re making, feel free to add some (cinnamon and nutmeg work really well). This pie filling cannot be canned because of the cornstarch.
This recipe makes enough for a 9-inch pie. Pour the filling into your favorite pie crust, top with another layer of your favorite pie crust, make a lattice layer, or top with streusel and bake. Use in place of canned cherry filling. This filling isn’t just for pie. I made a cherry cheesecake with it. You can also pour it onto ice cream or your favorite piece of cake. Or eat it by the spoon. Nobody is judging.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Few drops of red food coloring
- 5 cups pitted sour cherries
- In a large saucepan, combine water, sugar, and cornstarch. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often. Cook for another 1-3 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract and food coloring. Stir in cherries. Cool to room temperature then use right away or store in the refrigerator*.
*This filling cannot be canned because of the cornstarch. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 month or freeze it in a freeze-proof container.
Source: Adapted from Cherry Marketing Institute
More Cherry Recipes
Cinnamon Pecan Cherry Pie