The grocery store checkout racks are filled with magazines featuring pies on their covers this month so, succumbing to the subliminal marketing messages, I’ve been craving one. Normally, I’m not a pie fan. I’d much rather eat my fruit raw, swirl it into a smoothie or bake it into a pound cake, but the pie allure is strong. When my farm share last week included local sour cherries I could see the writing on the wall.
But, and it’s a big but, LOCAL sour cherries? Remember, I live in Georgia where cherries don’t just grow on trees. You’ve got to get them from Michigan or Washington. But somehow, thanks to the perseverance of my farmer, there they were. Beautiful, local cherries. Just making plans for them made me feel so virtuous. I mean, when my grandmother got food from the store it was ALL local. She would not have thought twice about the origin of her cherries. She would probably have thought, “great, cherries are in season,” bought them and baked her pie. But, in today’s weird food climate, find these beautiful local gems was kind of like winning a gold medal. I bought two more pints and planned my pie.
Every single day for a week I woke up planning to make that pie and every single day something else took precedence. Life is funny that way. I kept the magazine with the recipe I wanted to try right on the kitchen counter to remind me.
Finally a stretch of spare hours…. I excitedly pulled the containers from the fridge and tipped all those beautiful bright jewels into the colander and alas, they were more delicate than I realized. Many had not survived the week. I had killed the local cherries from neglect. My grandmother would never have kept her cherries waiting. She knew the fragility of real produce. In one week I went from proud locavore dropping hints of my virtue into any conversation I could, “Did I tell you I found love gorgeous local cherries? Yes, local!” to food heathen unworthy of nature’s bounty. Shaking off the food guilt, I rolled up my sleeves to redeem this situation. I set to work to pit the little beauties and would make it work. No time to waste adding up the cost of this very expensive Toss It Tuesday.
As an aside, have you ever pitted tart cherries? They are TINY. The fruit is hardly bigger than the pit, especially when you’ve got to pare away little bruised bits. Especially when your cherry pitter broke last year, you never replaced it, and are now working with a paring knife. But really, who cares? Local. Sour. Cherries. My virtuous stock was rising again. I kept waiting for someone to call so I could say I was making a cherry pie with local sour cherries and an interesting almond crust. The phone was silent. I was being punished for wasting my treasure.
Look how pretty this fruit is! That’s lime zest on top. I didn’t follow the recipe exactly. By now you may have guessed I never do. You were supposed to infuse the sugar with the zest, but I got carried away with the colors and it was really zesty.
Sadly, I was two pounds short of three pounds. Even if every cherry was perfect I would have been short. Throwing off the local medal of honor that no one but me knew or cared about anyway, I amended my pie plan and hauled from the fridge an industrial size plastic container of sweet cherries purchased at my local Costco, shipped from the not so local state of Washington, onto the counter and continued pitting. They were quite gorgeous too. Giant, probably like the orchard them came from.
Here they are, local and industrial, mixed together in a baptizing bath of organic sugar (i.e., evaporated cane juice) and organic cornstarch that balanced everything.
Here’s the crust with made with butter and almond meal. Doesn’t it match my countertop exactly?
Limey cherries happily snuggled in the nutty crust. The recipe does not call for butter but have you ever made a pie without it? Not my personal favorite. Plus, I’d already veered from recipe authenticity. I added some chunks of grass-fed goodness.
Didn’t it turn out well? It looked exactly like the magazine cover.
We ate it before I ever took another picture. I promise it looked exactly like this. Possibly prettier. And it was delicious.
When the blueberries ripen I’m making this one too. How about you?
P.S. Full disclosure: I did not put all the pits into compost, only the cherries. I just liked the “cherriness” of that “Toss It” photo.