Sweet As Cherry Pie

When I left Stearns County to live in New Zealand, one of the things lost to me was cherry pie.

Cherry pie and anything made from fresh cherries, but also from the canned cherry filling often used in desserts and pies back in Minnesota.

At CashWise or Coborn’s you can buy cherry filling for less than $4 a can. The same product is hard to get in New Zealand and costs up to $50 for a single can due to shipping fees.

Every now and then I buy a wee jar of imported maraschino cherries just for the nostalgia, fishing them out with toothpicks from my vintage St Joe Meat Market dispenser. But it’s not the same as that decadently sweet cherry pie filling of my childhood.

New Zealand grows and exports beautiful cherries. I could make my own pie filling, but in our house I’m the only one who likes pie. So I indulge my cherry pie fetish when I’m in Minnesota.

Usually you can find cherry pie at bakeries or at the CashWise in Waite Park or on excursions to small town diners or truck stops or Betty’s Pies in Two Harbors.

It was a long drive from Duluth on a blustery autumn day to have a little lunch at Betty’s, followed by pie ordered from the glorious menu.

Even though the original Betty no longer owns the business that started out in a fish shack in 1956, this cafe and bakery is a destination in its own right. Betty Lessard passed away in 2015 at the age of 90; you can still buy secondhand copies of her book Betty’s Pies Favorite Recipes at and at bookstores. I have a well-thumbed copy but had never been to the restaurant in person.

Betty’s Pies founder and author Betty Lessard.

We all wanted something different that day: coconut cream, strawberry rhubarb, cherry, three berry.

I resisted the greedy urge to order a whole French Cherry Cream pie to go, though Betty’s will deliver one to you if you order at

It’s a trek from Duluth to Two Harbors, especially in bad weather. Was it worth it?

Oh ja.

When I think about that day, I’m back with my sisters and my daughter.

We are laughing.

I can still taste that cherry pie.

Photos Betty’s Pies, News Tribune

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2 thoughts on “Sweet As Cherry Pie”

  1. Lois Thielen says:

    Cherry pie is my favorite. I like peach, apple, pumpkin…but the best is cherry and I make it every Christmas. I have made it with fresh cherries but this version costs more and is a lot more work than the canned version.

    1. Editor says:

      Another recipe we will filch from Minnesota’s famous baker!

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