It’s that time of summer, when the fairs and festivals are full of amazing smells, the fruits of labor are starting to ripen and harvest time is upon us. Seems things are a bit earlier this year with the mild winter and global warming so I wanted to share something that is difficult to find in most parts of Southeast (with the exception of Haines I’ve found but please message me if you live elsewhere and have an amazing cherry tree). and for resources and info on Alaska Pioneer Fruit Growers.

I’ve been traveling a bit this summer and have come across cherries everywhere and there is nothing better to me than enjoying fresh fruit and preserving it for darker and colder days ahead. So canning your own fruit mixtures is amazing, you control the ingredients, sugar amounts (which I have the most issue with store bought varieties and the over sickening sweetness levels). Learning your flavors and preferences and then canning your own fruit fillings, be it cherries, nagoon berries, blueberries or highbush cranberries should be on your summer bucket list. I’ve got recipes for your cherry filling, discover what suits your yard, forest and fill up that pantry.
So what do you do with all these amazing jars of pie fillings… well it’s fair time so you make hand pies.. I’ve always been a fan of portable self enclosed foods, whether it be on a stick, in a vessel made of the ingredients or encased in a dough. It’s food on the go and I like to gather no moss. Hand pies are traditionally deep fried but can be skillet fried or baked and the dough is typically a doctored up biscuit instead of pie crust, usually of sweet or savory fillings. For our sweet fillings you’ll need to add some dried fruit or the fresh fruit mixture will collapse the dough in the process and there is nothing sadder than a ruined hand pie… hand pies used to be called Coffins in the middle ages, for any basket or covered cave food cooked in a clay oven, throughout history you will find a hand like dough in almost every culture, so get to it America, time to make your own from scratch, again, make them with your hands… you will feel the love all the way thru the process. For this recipe think Healthy Hostess….

Homemade Canned Cherry Pie Filling
A sumptuous homemade cherry pie filling made with plenty of fresh picked tart pie cherries (6 cups of the bright red beauties!) as well as just the right amount of sugar for sweetness and fresh cherry juice for tartness makes our cherry pie filling stand out from the pack. By using tapioca starch as a thickener, versus flour as in the original vintage recipe, or organic cornstarch, the fresh cherry flavor bursts through the filling instead of being overpowered resulting in a clear and bright look and taste versus lackluster. What’s not to love?


  • 5 to 6 cups fresh pitted tart cherries, about 2½ to 3 pounds
  • 1 to 1¼ cups granulated organic cane sugar
  • 4 tablespoons tapioca flour/starch, such as Bob’s Red Mill®
  • Pinch of kosher salt
  • ½ cup organic tart cherry juice, not from concentrate
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon pure almond extract
  • Special Equipment
  • Cherry Pitter, such as (Progressive International GPC-5000 Cherry-It Multiple Cherry Pitter)

Preparation: In a large saucepan, blend together sugar, tapioca flour/starch and salt using a whisk. Add cherry juice and stir until well blended; add pitted cherries. Cook and stir over medium heat until mixture reaches a boil, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in almond extract. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Use as a filling or topping immediately in recipes or store in jars with tight lids in refrigerator up to 2 days. If storing pie filling in the refrigerator, it may separate. To thicken again, reheat filling in a saucepan over medium heat stirring frequently. Cool before using in recipes. When we made this recipe, we made two batches yielding 5 pints or 5 half liter jars full.

Summer Lovin’ Cherry Hand Pies
Yield: 8 hand pies
Preheat the oven to 425°F; place a rack on the middle shelf. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.


  • 2 cups Unbleached Organic All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) cold unsalted organic butter
  • 1/2 cup cold sour cream, organic


  • 1 1/2 tablespoons organic cornstarch
  • 2 cups fresh canned cherry filling
  • 2/3 cup dried cherries (unsulphered if you can find them)
  • 1/2 cup sugar, organic
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
  • organic Flour (for dusting)
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons raw sugar, organic

To make the dough: Whisk together the flour, salt, and baking powder. Add the butter, working it in to make a coarse/crumbly mixture. Leave most of the butter in large, pea-sized pieces. Stir in the sour cream; the dough won’t be cohesive. Turn it out onto a floured work surface, and bring it together with a few quick kneads. Pat the dough into a rough log, and roll it into an 8” x 10” rectangle. Dust both sides of the dough with flour, and starting with a shorter end, fold it in three like a business letter. Flip the dough over, give it a 90° turn on your work surface, and roll it again into an 8” x 10” rectangle. Fold it in three again Wrap the dough, and chill for at least 30 minutes before using very important step and a good time to preheat the oven and such. To make the filling: Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan set over medium heat. Cook until the mixture starts to thicken, about 5 minutes. Transfer the cooked berries to a bowl and let cool to room temperature. To assemble the pies: Roll the dough into a 14” x 14” square. With a straight edge and pastry wheel to cut out 8 each 3 1/2” squares. Divide the filling among eight of the squares, using about a heaping tablespoon for each. Brush some of the beaten egg along the edges of each filled square. Cut a vent into the each of the remaining eight squares, using a decorative cutter of your choice. Top each filled square with a vented square, and press along the edges with the tines of a fork or a pie crust crimper to seal. Brush the top of each pie with the remaining beaten egg, and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. Transfer the pies to the prepared baking sheet. Bake the pies for 18 to 20 minutes. Remove them from the oven, and let cool for 20 minutes before serving.