Tasting the past: Ruth Ann’s cherry crunch

Close-up of cherry crumble

Ruth Ann’s Cherry crunch.

I’ve been trying to get back into the blogging routine after a long hiatus. A Tasting the Past post seemed fitting to rekindle the habit. Ruth Ann’s cherry crunch comes to you courtesy of a hand written recipe from the wooden box.

The recipe itself is quite simple: it’s a cherry crumble. Also, it calls for store bought cherry pie filling. But we’re in Ontario and in the middle of summer where fresh produce is abundant. Foodland Ontario’s – a program part of the province’s ministry of Agriculture and Food – slogan boasts “Good things grow in Ontario”…  In other words, it would wrong to not make our own cherry filling.

We had several sour cherries left over from the week before. We also had about half a pint of currants that were kicking around in the fridge that would ultimately be put to good use.

Cherries and currants

Cherries galore and some colourful currants.

Without a cherry pitter, I somewhat apprehended prepping the cherries. I didn’t want to slice them in half to try to remove the pit. That wouldn’t be fun for it would make for a messy and wasteful process. Luckily, I found a simple technique that would pit the cherries easily: using a straw to push the pit out of the fruit. It was still a little messy, but very few cherries were gone to waste.

The fruits prepped, I then consulted my ultimate cooking reference: The Flavor Bible. The idea was to see what ingredients pair well with cherries. I opted for some brandy, sage as well as lemon juice and zest. To create the filling/jam, I followed chef David Lebovitz’s No-Recipe Cherry Jam. In retrospect, following a non recipe may be a little paradoxical, but it worked!

After 40 minutes in the oven, Ruth Ann's cherry crunch is ready to serve

After 40 minutes in the oven, Ruth Ann’s cherry crunch is ready to serve

Ruth Ann’s cherry crunch


  • 1 cup of quick cooking oatmeal (85 g)
  • 1 cup of flour (128 g)
  • ¾ of brown sugar (165 g)
  • ½ tsp. of cinnamon
  • ½ cup of butter or margarine (113 g)
  • 1 can of 22 oz. cherry pie filling* (approximately 650 mL)*

* We made our own


  • Preheat oven at 375 °F (190.5 °Celsius)
  • Combine first flour ingredients (flour, oatmeal, brown sugar, cinnamon)
  • Cut in butter
  • Press the mixture in the bottom of an 8 inch square pan.
  • Spread in filling.
  • Spread over the other half of the crumb mixture on top
  • Bake at 375 375 °F for 40 minutes
Cherries, currants, lemon juice and zest.

Cherries, currants, lemon juice and zest.

Cherry filling/Cherry jam inspired by David Lebovitz’s No-Recipe Cherry Jam


  • Approximately 2 cups of fresh cherries, pitted
  • 1 ¾ cup of sugar
  • Zest and juice of 1 lemon
  • Brandy
  • Chopped sage leaves


  • Pit cherries
  • In a large pot cook cherries.
  • Add lemon juice and zest.
  • Cook until wilted and soft (about 20 minutes) while stirring every now and then.
  • Once they are cooked, measure out the quantity of cherries and use ¾ the amount of sugar.
  • Mix sugar and cook over medium-high heat.
  • Add in a couple of splashes of brandy and chopped sage leaves
  • Jam will be ready when it has appeared to have thickened.

A final thought

Ruth Ann’s cherry crunch was a success. Preparing home made cherry filling added to the dish. It was a good challenge, considering that I only made something jam-like once (and I had the help of Jell-O). In retrospect, I would have perhaps added a little less sugar for the mixture vas very sweet, but ultimately, that would be more of a personal choice.


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