I received a subscription to Bon Appetit Magazine, and the cover of the June issue was a spectacular classic sour cherry pie with lattice crust. I read the accompanying article, and I learned that Michigan produces about 75% of the tart or sour cherries in the U.S., and they’re hard to get outside of Michigan.
I love summer pies, and blueberry pie has been my favorite. I love fresh black cherries, but I particularly dislike cherry flavoring in other things. I defy family tradition by detesting black cherry ice cream, for instance. But, I was intrigued, sour cherry pie might be worth trying, because a bit of tartness really helps make a tasty pie.
So, I tore out the recipe and saved it. Today, I went to the Ann Arbor Farmer’s Market with my mom and my aunt (visiting from NYC). We picked up 2 quarts of sour cherries for the pie.
The cherries brought back memories. My mom told the story of pitting cherries with a hairpin with her mom. I didn’t have a cherry pitter, so we stopped by a drugstore and got some bobby pins. And then, my mom, my aunt, and I sat on my back deck and pitted 2 quarts of cherries with 3 bobby pins. It worked great – the cherries were perfectly ripe.
My mom reminded me that my dad’s old office had a sour cherry tree behind it, and then I remembered picking cherries from it by sitting on the fence.
My mom then told the story of how on July 4th weekend the year I was born (that would be 12 days before my birth), her father came to town. My mom’s mom had passed away years before, and my grandfather attended to my mom by working beside her. They picked buckets of cherries, sugared them, and froze them, laying in some summer sweetness for the year to come. I suppose I come by my cherry snobbery honestly.
Tonight’s pie was fantastic – the tartness of the cherries required a big dollop of vanilla ice cream as a balance. It’s as good as my favorite, blueberry pie.
But even better than the pie was feeling connected to my mom and my aunt as we sat around a table and worked together and talked, and feeling connected to those that have passed on – my grandmother with her hairpin pitter, and my grandfather offering his labor to ease my mom’s.