Although cherries were preserved or dried for use at Mount Vernon, visitors are not known to have mentioned them. Many varieties of the fruit were grown on the estate, including the Morello cherries suggested in this Hannah Glasse recipe, which the Washingtons’ cooks might have used. Both fresh and jarred cherries work well here. If using fresh ones, set the pitted fruit aside for at least two hours so that the cherries can release their juice. Glasse suggested adding red currants to the basic recipe. Because fresh currants are often difficult to find, currant jam is offered here as an alternative. This recipe was adapted by culinary historian Nancy Carter Crump.
1 recipe Common Pie Crust
1 cup red currant jam
5 cups fresh sour cherries, preferably Morello, pitted, or 3 jars (1 pound, 9 ounces each) preserved Morello cherries, drained with about 1/4 cup of juice reserved
4 tablespoons arrowroot
About 1 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling over crust (optional)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, chilled and diced
1. Make a Common Pie Crust.
2. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
3. On a lightly floured surface, roll the pie-crust dough into a circle about 1/4 inch thick and place in a lightly greased pie pan, gently pressing it into the pan. Set aside in the refrigerator.
4. Heat the red currant jam, stirring until it begins to soften, about 2 minutes. Stir into the cherries, mixing together well. Combine the sugar and salt, and stir into the cherry and jam mixture to dissolve. Taste the mixture, and add more sugar if it seems too tart.
5. Combine the arrowroot with 1/2 of the reserved juice, and then blend in the remainder. Add to the cherries, and mix until well combined.
6. Pour the cherries into the prepared pie shell. Dot the butter over the filling. Place the top crust over the filling, folding the bottom edges up over the top piece of dough and then pinching together to seal. If desired, sprinkle additional sugar over the top.
7. Bake for 20 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 375°F, and bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, or until the filling is bubbly and the crust is golden brown.
8. Remove from the oven, and set on a rack to cool thoroughly before slicing. The juices will thicken as the pie cools.
One 10-inch double-crust pie
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