Cherries are a pretty big deal in Michigan. Traverse City has a huge cherry festival every year and yet, I only had access to sweet cherries my whole life. As a life-long Michigan girl, I owed it to myself and all of Michigan (uh…) to find some sour cherries. The search began two summers ago and I quickly found out it wasn’t going to be an easy task. Who could I give my Michigan credentials to and find the secret stash of tart cherries? Seriously.
Last year, Meg and I went strawberry picking at an orchard nearby and I discovered that they had tart cherry trees. Ooo! Unfortunately the much earlier than normal spring warm-up and then a few frosty nights destroyed most of their summer fruit. The change in weather was sadly devastating to many farms that summer.
Over this past 4th of July weekend, my sister-in-law, Bethany, wanted to go to the farmers market and of course, I’m always up for that. I saw sour cherries at several stands and I couldn’t believe it. The one small problem was that I was in my hometown of Holland, Michigan and 3 hours west of home. I just had to buy them, though! I chose two quarts of sour cherries from a Dutch farmer with a big smile and a toothpick in the corner of his mouth. He told me that two quarts is a good amount for making pie because one quart makes a skimpy cherry pie. The truth was that I hadn’t even thought of what I might do with them.
Thankfully, the cherries made it home safe and sound. I could have made a sour cherry pie, but I thought it would be fun to try hand pies. They also happen to be a favorite of Meg’s (remember the flips from this post?) and we had plans to do wedding errands all day Friday. I wanted to surprise her with homemade hand pies. Let’s be real, though, it wasn’t completely selfless. We’re all winners when there are mini sour cherry hand pies around.
They turned out just as I hoped they would. A lightly sweetened sour cherry filling with a flaky crust and coarse sugar on top for a little crunch. I shared them with Marc, my friends at work and of course, my buddy Meg. They were a big hit.
I know the steps seem a bit long below, but each step is pretty easy. Feel free to break the steps up, if that helps get you closer to these amazing mini hand pies. You can make the crust and filling one day and bake the pies off the next. They freeze well for up to a month if you want to make them ahead of time, too!
Meg and I have already made plans to pick some sour cherries next summer and make these together.