Aggipah’s Dutch-Oven Cherry Crisp

One of our favorite and most talked-about river desserts is cherry crisp. You may make this with any canned fruit. We’ve tried peaches, raspberries and blackberries(separately) and they are great, too. Our desserts have evolved over the decades, though many of our river recipes have been in use for over 35 years now.

Dutch oven cherry crisp
Aggipah guide Steph dishing out some Dutch oven cherry crisp on the Middle Fork.

Back in the “old days” Bill Bernt(owner of Aggipah River Trips) did several one-boat trips each summer. This meant he had to wake up early, make breakfast on his own, clean up, load the boat, row his guests down the river, lead hikes, teach folks about the Salmon River Country, unload the boat at camp, set up the kitchen, make dinner, clean up, etc…all on his own, since there weren’t any other guides to help. Meals had to be good but simple.

Modern River Kitchen
Our modern river-side kitchen has evolved since Bill’s one-boat trips in Aggipah’s early days.

We have created a bit of an inside joke at Aggipah that stems from this time period in Aggipah’s early history. One of the meals Bill prepared was 40-Mile stew: a layered Dutch-oven dish that isn’t very complicated, but takes up quite a bit of time, especially when one is preparing it all himself. Bill would serve this stew with homemade Dutch-oven biscuits and a green salad with canned peaches and Pearson’s mint patties for dessert. Later on, as my brother and I(Bill’s two kids) got older, we would often rib Bill about “slacking off,” and not making a big deal out of dessert on 40-Mile Stew night. This, of course, would get us a good round of, “Well, when you do 6 or 7 person trips all by yourself all summer, you’ll see why I had peaches and mints for dessert!” Over the years, “peachesnmints”(all one word, mind you!), became a joking synonym for slacking off. As in, “Bill’s not on the trip this week, I think we’ll do peachesnmints for dessert every night.”

Sometimes my brother and I will be discussing things on the phone, say, not wanting to do homework, or something such as that. Pretty soon one of us will chime in, “Nope! We’re not having peachesnmints! Get to work!”

Anyway, in present-day Aggipah life, we do river desserts like Cherry Crisp. The recipe for 12 follows:

3 cans cherry pie filling, 3-4 packets cinnamon and spice instant oatmeal, 3/4 cup butter, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 cup brown sugar, 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

Grease the bottom of a 12″ Dutch-oven. Pour in the cans of cherry pie filling. In a separate bowl, crumb together butter, brown sugar and flour. Stir in oatmeal packets, cinnamon and nuts. This will be very crumbly and you may have to use your fingers instead of a fork to get it mixed. Sprinkle this mixture over the cherries. Set Dutch on top of coals, add coals to lid and bake till done(crust will be browned). This usually takes 20 minutes or so. This can also be made in a home oven in a 13X9 casserole dish and baked at 375 degrees till done.


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