Quick & Easy Recipes

How to make homemade cherry pie filling from scratch

jar of fresh cherry pie filling next to a colander of cherries
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Nothing says “Summer” more than delicious cherry pie! I’m sharing my easy recipe for making cherry pie filling using the fresh, handpicked cherries from our neighbors yard.

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basket full of cherries

Last year, we planted 3 varieties of beautiful cherry trees on our small hobby farm. We have dreams of picking the fresh cherries, baking summer fruit pies and perhaps even selling them at a pop up farmstead we construct out front.

However, while our cherry trees did bare fruit this year, it was not nearly enough for an entire pie. Our trees are still babies, so perhaps in a few years they will be able to provide enough fruit. However, our neighbor’s mature cherry tree provided an abundance of cherries this year… So much so, that they couldn’t keep up with the fruit and asked if the girls and I would like to come pick some.

cherry picking

We, of course, jumped at the opportunity to pick fresh fruit! We typically go blueberry and apple picking each year, so to add another session of fruit picking into our Summer was a welcome outing!

two cherries with a green leaf on a black and white striped napkin

We ended up picking around 6 cups of fresh cherries, which for reference was enough to fill our colander. The girls also got a lesson in fresh cherries and quickly discovered that “pie cherries” are neither sweet nor as tasty as the maraschino cherries they’ve grown accustomed to in their Shirley Temples, lol!

how to make fresh cherry pie filling cherries in colander and pitter

Once we had an abundance of cherries and the fun of picking was over, I quickly remembered that each of these beautiful red cherries needs to be pitted – kind of a daunting task if not equipped with the right tool! There are many methods for pitting cherries, from metal straws to unbent paper clips, however I prefer the help of a cherry pitting matching I can use by hand.

cherries in a colander and in a cherry pitter

We do own a “cherry chomper,” however the idea of pitting these beauties one at a time was less than desirable! Since we plan on doing our fair chair of cherry pitting in the future, I decided to purchase this cherry pitter, which can be loaded with multiple cherries, making the pitting process much more palatable!

Side note:

The Leifheit cherry pitter I purchased is amazing, but definitely a bit more than your average cherry pitter. There are, however, many other options such as this cherry pitter, which allows you to load multiple cherries at once with a lower price tag! Or you could even opt for this single cherry pitter, which may take more time… but, hey, it’s better than a metal straw 😉

washing a bowl full of cherries for cherry pie filling

pitted cherries for the fresh cherry pie filling

Once the cherries are washed and pitted, the process for making fresh cherry pie filling is really quite simple (and delicious)! Simply follow the simply steps below and enjoy!

Fresh Cherry Pie Filling

Cherry Pie Filling Ingredients

  • 5 cups fresh pitted cherries, about 2 1/2 pounds
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, optional
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, optional

How to make fresh cherry pie filling

Step 1

Gather your ingredients and pit 5 cups of fresh picked cherries (if pitting cherries is not your thing, you can use frozen pitted cherries from the store)

ingredients for how to make fresh cherry pie filling

ingredients for how to make fresh cherry pie filling

Step 2

Add pitted cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.

adding sugar to the cherry pie filling

adding cornstarch to cherry pie filling

Step 3

Once the mixture has come a boil, reducer the heat to a simmer and stir until the filling becomes thick.

cherries boiling in a pot to make fresh cherry pie filling

(Optional) Once the pie filling has cooled, add a dash of vanilla and cinnamon for a next level flavor!


jar of fresh cherry pie filling next to a colander of cherries

Once you’ve made your delicious cherry pie filling, simply fill up your favorite pie crust and cook accordingly. Of course, if pie is not your thing, you could use this delicious cherry recipe atop a scoop of vanilla ice cream, yogurt or even your morning waffles! Or, you could simply eat it by the spoonful, like my daughter… it’s that good!

jared cherry pie filling

This recipe will store beautifully in the refrigerator for up to three days or you can freeze it and have it on hand for whenever you need a little fresh cherry pick me up! Enjoy!

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Fresh Cherry Pie Filling

Easy homemade cherry pie filling

Equipment

  • Cherry Pitter

Ingredients

  • 5 cups pitted cherries
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 tbsp corn starch
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cinammon (optional)

Instructions

  • Pit 5 cups of fresh picked cherries (if pitting cherries is not your thing, you can use pitted cherries from the frozen food section.
  • Add pitted cherries, water, lemon juice, sugar, and cornstarch to a sauce pan and bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often.
  • Once the mixture has come a boil, reducer the heat to a simmer and stir until the filling becomes thick.
  • (Optional) Once the pie filling has cooled, add a dash of vanilla and cinnamon for a next level flavor!

Notes

  • Pie cherries are sour by nature. You may want to need to adjust the amount of sugar and add more if more sweetness is desired.
  • Refrigerate leftover fresh cherry pie filling in a sealed container for up to 3 days.
  • If not using the cherry pie filling within 3 days, it will freeze wonderfully until you need it.

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