Classic Tart Cherry Pie

They are red, tasty and one of Michigan’s most prized crop.  That would be the fresh sweet cherries available during their short growing season.  But it is not just about the sweet cherry because the tart (sour) cherry is also available during this short season.  I love being able to bake a cherry pie with just picked cherries.

My favorite place to get fresh cherries, both sweet and tart, is from Robinettes, a nearby orchard that has been in business since  1911, with the Apple Haus being opened in 1973. The Apple Haus is home to a bakery, lunch counter and eating area, with home-grown fresh fruits in season.  They also have a winery and a cider mill for fresh pressed apple cider in the Fall.

Robinette's Wine

Robinettes have u-pick or one can call for special orders of the tart cherries (which is what I do).  It is truly one of my favorite places to visit.  I used fresh cherries from Robinettes for the pies I made for this post.  Here are some pictures of the cherries and wine I purchased.


Although, we do have a few orchards nearby that grow cherries, the main cherry production is in the Grand Traverse area.  Cherry trees were planted there in 1852 by Peter Dougherty, a Presbyterian missionary and the first European settler in the Traverse City area.  As it happened, the cherry trees thrived and today with 3.8 million tart cherry trees, Michigan produces 70 to 75 percent of the tart cherries grown in the United States. The primary variety grown is the Montmorency.  This fruit is excellent for pies, preserves, and juice.  Source is here.

I did find frozen Michigan tart cherries at a local food specialty store and non-Michigan frozen cherries at a local grocery store.  Good to know for future pie baking.

Classic Tart Cherry Pie

  • Servings: 6-8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

2 prepared 9 inch pie crusts

6 cups tart cherries, pitted (fresh or frozen – if using frozen, you do not need to thaw them)
1 1/4 to 1 1/2  cup sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 cup of cherry juice (from drained cherries)
pinch of salt
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 egg yolk, slightly beaten with 1 tablespoon water or heavy cream

Toss the cherries with 1/2 of the sugar.  Place in a colander set over a large bowl to catch any juices.  Let sit, stirring occasionally to redistribute the juices, for about one hour or (if frozen) until cherries are mostly thawed and 1/2 cup of liquid has drained from the cherries.

In a large saucepan, blend together the remaining sugar, cornstarch and salt using a whisk.  Add 1/2 cup of the cherry juice and stir until well blended; add the drained cherries.  Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil and juices have thickened slightly, about 3 to 4 minutes.  Remove from heat, stir in almond extract and let cool to room temperature.

Pour the cherry mixture into the prepared pie shell.  Cover with the top pastry.  Cut a design into it or cut slits into it; seal and flute.  Brush with the egg yolk mixture. Place the pie on a baking sheet that is lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper (to catch any spills) and bake in a preheated 425°F oven for 35 to 45 minutes, until the crust is golden brown and the fruit is bubbling.  

Tart Cherry Pie

Tart Cherry Pie Slice

1.  I found that cooking the filling before baking results in a pie that won’t be runny.
2.  If using frozen cherries, it may take longer for the liquid to drain from the cherries.
3.  Pie filling adapted from Wicked Good Kitchen recipe for homemade tart cherry pie filling recipe and can be found here.


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