Simple Cherry Pie Filling
Lemon Juice and water mixture (to prevent browning)
4 cups pitted tart red cherries
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 tsp. almond extract
1. Pit cherries, soak in mixture of 1 gallon water and 1 cup lemon juice to prevent browning.
2. In another bowl, mix sugar and cornstarch until well blended. Set aside.
3. Drain cherries, discard lemon water. Place cherries into a saucepan, cover. Heat cherries on medium heat, stirring often, until cherries release juice and the juice simmers. This takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Remove cherries from heat.
4. Pour sugar mixture into hot cherries and juice, and mix well. Return to low heat, bring to a simmer, and cook until filling thickens. This takes about 2 minutes. Remove from heat, let cool.
Filling is ready to use or freeze.
If you plan to use this filling for pie, you'll need Gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bags, aluminum foil, pie tins, and pie crust (optional). If you plan to use it for cobbler or other desserts, you can just use quart-sized Ziploc freezer bags.
For Pie with crust:
Make fresh pie crust (or use pre-made frozen), place in pie tin and shape. Pour filling into unbaked crust (fill pie, but do not overfill or it will spill over during baking). Cover top of pie with aluminum foil. Carefully slide unbaked pie in labeled Ziploc freezer bag (labeled with Recipe name, cooking directions for pie crust, and date). Remove all air from freezer bag and seal. Place sealed pie in freezer on a flat surface. Note: if pie tin is too big to fit in Freezer bag, wrap in Saran Wrap and freeze carefully. The Ziploc bags helps prevent freezer burn and spills in your freezer.
When ready to bake: Remove pie from freezer, remove ziploc bag. Preheat oven. Place pie on cookie sheet. Bake according to crust baking directions. Bake until the juices that bubble up in the center are clear and shiny. If edge of crust begins to overbrown, cover with strips of foil. Place on wire rack to cool.
For pie without crust (phantom container method):
Place cooled pie filling in gallon-sized Ziploc freezer bag. Place filled Ziploc bag in pie tin and spread the filling out so that it is "pie shaped." Make sure not to put too much filling in the bag. As you shape the filling to fit the pie tin, leave room for the crust that will be added before baking. If there is too much filling, it will spill over during baking. Remove air from bag and seal. Freeze on flat surface in freezer.
For cobbler or other uses:
Pour 2 cups cherry pie filling in Ziploc freezer bags. Remove air from bag and seal. Thaw and use like canned pie filling.