Amish Cook columnist Elizabeth Coblentz once wrote about baking 70 cakes 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 she needs to add an ingredient to your pies, she’s probably onto something. Even if that something is vinegar.
While you might be mocking (or miserable) at the thought of a vinegar and fruit tart, there’s plenty of precedent for adding a shot of something sour. The Pioneer WomanKnown for her home classics, Ree Drummond recommends adding balsamic vinegar to boost the tartness of a cherry pie. Without thinking too much, you can probably remember a fruit dessert that calls for lemon juice, such as blackberry pie.
Just like lemon juice keeps delicious fruit fillings from getting sickly sweet (via Enjoy your meal), vinegar fulfills a similar role. Traditionally, lemons were hard to find for much of the year. Vinegar acted as an equally acidic substitute for lemon juice, unimpeded by a growing season. Vinegar seems particularly well adapted to cherry recipes. According to Taste of HomeThe Amish Cook’s Coblentz recommended adding a splash of vinegar to all cherry baked goods, not just pie fillings. Like The Pioneer Woman, The Amish Cook says vinegar keeps cherry pie “tart.” So this cherry season, maybe skip the quest for the tartest cherries you can find and just add a spoonful of vinegar.