Tart Cherries are so Very – Michigan

Yes, we will admit, we are smitten with the mitten – the state of Michigan, that is (look at a map of the state if you don’t get the mitten reference). The whole state is crazy for cherries, but tart cherries are a whole ‘nother story. Michigan is the top producer of tart cherries in the country, with 217 million pounds produced in 2013 according to the USDA.

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Besides being delish, tart cherries are good for you. Studies link tart cherries with soothing inflammation and arthritis symptoms, easing muscle pain after a workout and enhancing sleep, according to the Cherry Marketing Institute.The season is very short for tart cherries – just a month or so – and the fruit is quite delicate which means that the cherries are not widely shipped (check out the kitchn’s Michigan sour cherry farm tour for an enlightening look at how tart cherries are grown in Michigan). If you’re lucky enough to live near Michigan like us, you can find them in farmers markets for a few weeks.  Just look at these beauties!

Farmers Market tart cherries

We made this pie with fresh tart cherries but don’t despair, you can easily use frozen. The addition of the dried cherries really amps up the cherry flavor and adds nice texture.

Traverse City is considered the cherry capital of the U.S. Check out the National Cherry Festival, July 5-12, 2014.


Michigan Double Cherry Pie

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
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Recipe adapted from the Cherry Marketing Institute, used with permission


For crust:

  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 6 tablespoons shortening
  • 1/2 cup cold water

For filling:

  • 4 cups fresh or frozen, unsweetened, pitted tart cherries
  • 1 cup dried tart pitted cherries
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure almond extract
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon sweet or unsalted butter


For crust: Place all ingredients except water in food processor and blend until fine crumbs are formed. Add water a little at a time until the dough is moist and forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and place in fridge until ready to use. (Can be made a day ahead).

For filling: Preheat oven to 375° F. Combine fresh or frozen cherries, dried cherries, granulated sugar, tapioca and almond extract in a large mixing bowl; mix well. (It is not necessary to thaw cherries before using.) Let cherry mixture stand 15 minutes.

Divide crust in two. Roll out bottom crust onto a floured surface. Gently lift onto a 9-inch pie plate. Fill crust with cherry mixture. Sprinkle with nutmeg and dot with butter.

Roll out top crust onto a floured surface. Place on top of cherry filling. Press edges together to seal and flute or fork the edge. Using a sharp knife, cut about 5 small slits in top crust in order to let steam to escape.

Bake approximately 1 hour, or until crust is golden brown and filling is bubbly. If necessary, cover edge of crust with foil to prevent overbrowning. Let pie cool on a wire rack before serving.