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Montana Sweet Cherries, A Great Pick For Pie!

Cherry Pie Photo By Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Brooke Lark on Unsplash
Cherry Pie Photo By Brooke Lark on Unsplash

The Food Guys discuss the differences between sweet and sour cherries, and how to bake a delicious slab pie from Montana-grown sweet cherries.

Montana is mostly sweet (black) cherry country. Think you can only bake with sour, a.k.a. red or pie cherries? Greg says: nope. Go ahead and use those sweet cherries. Just add less sugar than you would for a sour cherry pie, and enjoy the benefits of more cherries and less sweetener.

So, what's a slab pie? It's a pie you make in a big, shallow-bottomed sheet or jelly roll pan. For one layer of fruit, it'll be just about an inch thick. (Use a 15.5" X 10.5" X 1" jellyroll pan, or a 18"x 12" or 17"x 11" half sheet pan.)

You'll need a lot of dough, so make enough pastry for a double-crust pie, then roll it out to fit the pan. The fresh cherries are naturally juicy. Sprinkle some finely ground almonds on the bottom to soak up the juice and add a complementary flavor. Add some lemon juice and sugar.

Now, it'll depend on your taste whether or not you choose to add thickener. To do so, mix cornstarch with sugar and then add more lemon juice. To cover the top of the pie, you'll need extra dough, sprinkled with some water and sugar to give the pie a crispy top. Your oven should be set at 375-400 degrees F. Bake away!

A helpful Food Guy tip: To pit cherries, DON'T PIT THEM ONE AT A TIME; it'll take forever! Greg recommends using a cherry stoner, which works wonders when you're pitting lots of cherries. Sweet cherries are also great for jam, and as with pie, compared to sour cherries, they don't need that much sugar.

Listen in now for more tips from "The Food Guys."

(Broadcast: "The Food Guys," 07/29/18. Listen weekly on the radio at 11:50 a.m. Sundays, or via podcast.)

Greg Patent is co-host of The Food Guys on Montana Public Radio. He won the Pillsbury bake-off when he was 19 years old. His cookbook, Baking in America, won the 2003 James Beard Award for best baking book of the year.
Jon Jackson is co-host of The Food Guys and a frequent guest on Jazz Sessions at Montana Public Radio. He is a mystery writer and jazz music expert with a passion for great food.
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