Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sour Cherry Season

The sour cherries, like everything else, were early this year. They were good, but I thought they were just a tad dry. Interesting, because it was a rainy June. But the weather freshened a few weeks before they came in, and they don’t seem the worse for the rain in the sense that they were not, as they were last year, waterlogged, and neither were they rotted and spotted, as they can also get from the rain. So, good on balance, considering the reverse-spring of 2012, warm and sunny early, wet and cool late.

I did make a pie, as you see, using the old New England standby of throwing some fruit in a rolled-out pastry and pouring over some sour cream and sugar.  This is the first time I’d made this pie with cherries, and I confess that I wasn’t a huge fan. I mean, it was fine. But I like it better with something like blackberries or apples.  In fact, apple-sour cream pie is an old favorite. I first had it when I was in college at the Red Rooster Tavern in North Kingstown, Rhode Island. At the time it was a very good restaurant, run by the locally famous Normand Leclair, that served traditional but slightly sophisticated (for the time) New England food like roast pork, fresh local seafood, and pie.  I used to go there just to have that pie, which was topped with a streusel (optional, but really good). That restaurant is gone, replaced, I think, by a bar.  But I have fond memories of the place, where my parents would take me when they came to visit.

I can be a creature of habit (aren't we all?), and making this sour cream pie with cherries was, in part, a feeling that I should do something different than the usual cherry pie with lattice crust. Perhaps I will do something different again next season, but an argument can be made that, when you only have one or two shots--the brief few weeks to get those true, old Montmerencies--you should stick with what you love best. Of course, cherries are great in cakes and preserves. But when it comes to pies, classics are classic for a reason.

Sour Cherry-Sour Cream Pie

Pastry for a 9” pie (butter/lard or all butter)

1 qt sour cherries, blackberries, apples, or other fruit
1 tea lemon juice
1 c sour cream
½ c brown or white sugar
½ tea vanilla
1 T flour
1 egg

Line pie plate with pastry and chill. Mix cream, sugar, vanilla, and flour. Stir in lightly beaten egg and set aside.  Pit cherries and toss with lemon juice. Use a slotted spoon to lift the cherries into the pie plate.
Pour the sour cream mixture over. Bake at 425F for 10 min; reduce to 325 and bake 30-40 min more til juicy and bubbling. 

You can top  this pie with a traditional crumb mixture if you want; sprinkle it over after you reduce the heat.


racheld said...

OH, my---that brings under-tongue tingles akin to sniffing the French's jar.

And how sour ARE they?---our two trees produced wonderful tart cherries, perfect for one of those good ole sugarful Southern Cobblers, but they were so small they were impossible to pit.

Everyone knew that every bite was a minefield, so they ate gently, enjoying every bite, and if we were outdoors, spitting the seeds off into the bushes.

And did you know the cherries are simply wonderful, smushed just a little bit in a bowl with the bottom of a heavy glass, and with a little sour cream and a bit of Turbinado stirred in? That's what I imagine your pie would taste like, but the pie warm and much more beautiful.

racheld said...


I got so carried away talking about all those sour cherries, I didn't mention that your piecrust is absolute perfection---like a piece of Fenton crimped-edge custard glass somewhere around here. The light through it is simply amazing.

Jane said...

These are the true sour cherry, so sour, but I do like things tart. Your cherries sound as if they suffered from weather--like ours did last year. But if they have the flavor, doing as you say with the sour cream and Turbinado is a great solution. I do like the look of a crimped pie shell; almost a shame to bake it!

Jared Kent said...

Where is the best place to find sour cherries in Rhode Island. I've recently been turned onto sour cherries and have a handful of recipes looking for them, but I'm not sure where to start looking. I know the season is coming up fast and I don't want to miss them this year.


Jane said...

Jared: You can only buy them direct from the farm or at a farmer's market. I suggest you call around to your local farms that sell fruit to ask; it is possible that you might find a listing on the Farm Fresh RI site or the RI Fruit Growers site (both linked on my home page). You could call Young Farm in Little Compton, if you can't find any close to where you live. In any case, you should call farmers to find out about timing--it's a very short season.