For my husband’s birthday, instead of a cake I made him a cherry pie, one of his favorite things to eat. Cherry pies are layered with all kinds of memories for me. More tart cherries are grown and harvested in Michigan than in any other state in the U.S., and my family has always enjoyed Michigan cherries. As a child, one of the highlights of my summer vacations was getting a cherry pie at the Cherry Hut in Beulah, Michigan, and eating it outside. Then we started going to Charlevoix (also in northern Michigan) every vacation we got, and we discovered Friske Orchards, just south of Charlevoix. My mom and I began making cherry pies regularly from Friske Orchards Montmorency red tart cherries, and a family tradition has continued and evolved. I cannot think about cherry pies without thinking of my father, since it was his favorite dessert for as long as I can remember. He called it a “bright and lively” pie. And it is bright and lively. A cherry pie is a great way to add some cheerfulness to a dark, cold evening. When we look outside and see so much brown and gray, it is nice to feast our eyes (and palates) on the deep, bright hue of the cherries. And that ruby-red goodness is full of health benefits too–tart cherries contain antioxidants and help reduce inflammation. I have continued to make cherry pies for special occasions, and my husband and children have come to love them too. In fact, we planted a couple of cherry trees in our yard a few years ago, in hopes that we can someday make cherry pies with our very own cherries. But we will have to be patient until our trees get bigger. Right now we have to share what little cherries our trees produce with the birds and insects, not to mention the deer who chew on the branches!
Anyway, the frozen cherries from northern Michigan are deliciously tart, and are a source of pleasure. Because of their delicate nature, most tart cherries are frozen right after they are picked and washed, so they are available to be enjoyed year-round. I am sharing the recipe for the cherry pie filling found on the package of frozen Montmorency tart cherries from Friske Orchards. I am sure you can use any type of frozen tart cherries and this filling recipe will work. If you need a simple and delicious recipe for a double pie crust for fruit pies, I have a good one at this link. What a treat to enjoy some brightness when the darkness is coming earlier and earlier.
Friske Homemade Cherry Piefill
- 1 1/2 pounds (680g/5 cups) frozen tart cherries
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 3 Tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon Almond Extract
Combine ingredients in a medium saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and cook for 1 minute, stirring often. Filling thickens as it cooks. Pour into a pie crust and cover with the other pie crust. Follow the baking directions for the pie crust recipe. Serve with vanilla ice cream or just on its own. Enjoy!