How to pit cherries using a beer bottle, a life skill I’m glad I have now, plus a recipe for Cherry Crumble, but I really think it should be called Cherry Crisp since it doesn’t include oats in the topping. Baking semantics.
I never make anything with fresh cherries because they take so long to pit. But that was before I found this clever cherry pitting tip on Lifehacker. They found it on the Don’t Eat the Paintings blog. This method still takes time but how often do you get to use a beer bottle as a kitchen tool? Drink the beer first, and then move onto your cherries.
Here’s the method:
- Change your shirt into something that you don’t mind staining. Put on an apron. Trust me on this one.
- Place a cherry upside down on the top of the bottle with its stem hanging inside the neck of the bottle.
- Plunge a chopstick into the cherry. Look down at your chest. It’s sprayed with cherry juice, isn’t it?
- Feel for the pit and push it into the bottle. Sometimes you have to help the pit out of the cherry, but usually it goes right in, leaving you with a hollowed out cherry. Very cool.
The original Cooking Light recipe for Cherry Crumble called for Rainier cherries but I used Bing. They must have been sweet enough because I didn’t have to add any additional sugar. One cup of brown sugar in the crumble was definitely enough sweetness. And the vanilla ice cream didn’t hurt. For best results, taste your cherries to see if you need to add sugar to the cherry mix.
I made another change to the original recipe. Instead of using a 9” cast-iron skillet, I used a 9” x 13” Pyrex baking dish. I imagine you’d get some caramelization of the cherries in a cast-iron skillet, let me know if you try it that way.
After tasting fresh cherries in a dessert, you’ll never reach for canned cherries again, well, at least not in the summer. Instead of gloopy cloying syrup, you have big fresh pops of cherry goodness in every bite. July is without a doubt the best month for fruit desserts.
You’ll need a baking dish, large bowl, medium bowl, pastry blender (or two knives or food processor), and rimmed sheet pan (optional).
- Cooking spray
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- Dash of salt
- 3 pounds cherries, pitted
- 4-1/2 ounces all-purpose flour (about 1 cup)
- 1 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup (or more) finely chopped almonds
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 7 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into small pieces
- Vanilla ice cream
Preheat oven to 400°. Place baking dish in preheated oven and heat 5 minutes. Remove from oven and lightly coat with cooking spray.
Combine cornstarch, lemon juice, salt, and cherries in a large bowl, tossing well to coat. Pour cherry mixture into prepared pan.
Weigh or lightly spoon flour into a measuring cup. Combine flour with brown sugar, almonds, cinnamon and salt in a medium bowl. Cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. (You could probably use a food processor for this step.) Sprinkle flour mixture over cherries. Place pan on a rimmed sheet pan if you think the cherries might bubble over (are they close to the rim?).
Bake at 400° for 35 minutes or until filling is thick and bubbly and topping is browned. Remove from oven. Let stand 20 minutes, if you can. Serve warm with vanilla ice cream.
Original recipe: Rainier Cherry Crumble, Cooking Light, July 2009
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