The Amish Cook columnist Elizabeth Coblentz once wrote of baking 70 pies for her daughter’s wedding (via New York Times). How many of us can say we’ve baked 70 pies in a lifetime, let alone on just one occasion? So if she says to add an ingredient to your pies, she’s probably on to something. Even if that something is vinegar.
While you may scoff (or wretch) at the thought of a vinegar and fruit pie, there’s plenty of precedent for adding a shot of something sour. The Pioneer Woman‘s Ree Drummond, known for her down-home classics, recommends adding balsamic vinegar to boost a cherry pie’s tartness. Without thinking too hard, you can probably recall a fruit dessert that calls for lemon juice, such as blackberry pie.
Just as lemon juice keeps luscious fruit fillings from coming off sickly sweet (via Bon Appétit), vinegar fills a similar role. Traditionally, lemons were hard to find much of the year. Vinegar stepped up as an equally sour substitute for lemon juice, unhindered by a growing season. Vinegar seems particularly well adapted to cherry recipes. According to Taste of Home, The Amish Cook’s Coblentz recommended adding a splash of vinegar to all cherry baked goods, not just pie fillings. Just like The Pioneer Woman, The Amish Cook says vinegar keeps cherry pie “tart.” So this cherry season, maybe skip the treasure hunt for the tartest cherries you can find and just add a spoonful of vinegar.