Our Montmorency cherry trees are loaded this year! Typically it seems we have a couple of bountiful years and then an off year. Last year was definitely an off-year.
Now I’m thinking about what to do with all my bounty of fresh cherries coming up! My favorite way to preserve them is to dehydrate them. Not the sweet cherries, like Bings, but the pie cherries like my Montmorencies. It’s a simple process—really the hardest part is removing the pits. I generally divide my dehydrating over a period of several weeks, just preserving every few days the cherries that have just reached their peak and leaving the rest to continue ripening. It makes the whole process so much easier when you don’t have to do a marathon!
This simple process for “Dried Cherries” is detailed in “The Artisan’s Collection of Recipes and Methods”. Here it is for those of you who don’t already have the book:
Drying Cherries - Method:
Wash cherries, remove stems & pits. Add sugar to taste if desired, and mix until dissolved. Place on dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 125 degrees or use a solar dehydrator. When correctly dehydrated, cherries will feel sticky and leathery. Don’t over-dry! To make sure cherries are dry enough, put some into a plastic Ziploc bag or glass jar with lid right away while warm. If condensation forms on the inside you need to dry them out a bit more. Store in air-tight containers or vacuum seal to preserve freshness.
I can’t end this post without sharing one of my very favorite fresh fruit recipes that I discovered not too long ago. Craig and I had some very special times at a restaurant located on a gorgeous lake nearby that served this most delicious fresh huckleberry pie in season. I often make it for our family and friends with our own huckleberries after the restaurant shared this recipe.
I’ve made a few changes and actually, you can use this basic recipe for almost any fresh fruit in season that I can think of. The beautiful thing is that other than the glaze and the pie crust it’s all just fresh fruit—not cooked or baked—with the incredible flavors that only come with fruit straight from the orchard, garden or vine!
So here’s the recipe for FRESH cherry, strawberry, huckleberry, raspberry, blackberry, or peach pie:
Berry Pie (your choice of berries)
- 1 9" pastry shell
- 4-6 cups washed berries (or other similar fresh fruit)
- 3/4 cup water
- 3 tbsp non GMO corn starch
- 1 cup sugar
- lemon juice
- whipped cream or ice cream
Simmer 1 cup berries with water for 3-4 minutes. Combine corn starch and sugar, then add to cooking berries. Simmer slowly until syrup is thick and clear.
When thickened, add lemon juice (1 tsp-1 Tbsp depending on sweetness of fruit) and cool slightly. Line pastry shell with 3-5 cups fruit, pour the slightly cooled glaze over the raw berries/fruit. Mix gently with a fork to coat the fresh berries/fruit. Chill thoroughly. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream. Serves 6-8