apple pie ready to bake

Pie Fillings-Three Methods for Fruit Pies

Pie fillings come in a variety of versions and methods. All seasons are a perfect time to make fruit desserts. I thought it would be fun to share some fun tips on making fruit pies and some different methods in which to cook them.

Three Methods of Pie Fillings

Last fall I was working from my home kitchen fulfilling some big-time pie orders for corporate catering.   I made both mini and regular size pies.  There were times I was making 400 mini pies and 6-10 regular size pies an order!

Crazy, doesn’t even begin to tell you how my kitchen looked but I can tell you it sure smelled heavenly despite the chaos!  Anyway, I learned some great techniques for getting ahead with those big orders that I wanted to share with you.

Pie Tip

One thing that helped me tremendously was making up all the crusts first, then rolled and placed in aluminum tins to freeze until ready to fill.

Method Overview

The first two pie filling methods are thickened with a cornstarch slurry where the cornstarch acts to gelatinize (thicken) as well as, give your pie filling a bit of a shine.  That’s an extra added plus in my book!

For some food science and pie making, check out my post here on the math behind pie crust and the Art of Pie Dough

Cook Juice Method

This method takes a foundation liquid, such juice or water with sugar dissolved and bring it to a boil. A slurry of cornstarch and water are then added to thicken the mixture by bringing it to a boil.  This mixture is then removed from the heat and then fruits are added.  These fruits consist mostly as your softer fruits like blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.  Also, canned and frozen fruits are used with this method.

A good example of this would be a berry pie, or the classic strawberry pie where the sauce is cooked and poured over the berries.  The fruit is not cooked in the sauce to prevent the berries from becoming mushy and doing so allows them to hold their appearance and texture much better.

strawberry filling using the cooked juice method
Simple strawberry pie

Cooked Juice-Fruit Method

In this method, it differs slightly by the cooked juice method when liquid is brought to a boil, here fruit is then added.  The fruit is cooked with the liquid till just tender.  One tip to think about is when you add your fruit, make sure the fruit is uniform in size for it to cook optimally.  And, as a general rule the larger the fruit you add, the longer the cooking time will be.

As with this method, it too is also thickened with a cornstarch slurry when brought to a boil.

A good example of this is an apple pie filling I did for my large orders.  I heated up butter, brown sugar, and water and then added the apples to make a wonderful thick fruit filling.  The one advantage to this method is it will allow your pies to cook a bit faster since the fruit has gotten a head start in the cooking process.

PIE TIP

You can also freeze the this by wrapping in saran wrap and placing in a freezer bag.  Just remove from the freezer and add a crumb topping and bake as regular.  I place this on the lowest oven rack when baking to make sure the bottom crust gets nice and browned.  It will take a few extra minutes since it was frozen.

A great way to make up large quantities of pies.

apple filling placed into a crust ready to bake
cooked apple filling placed into a pie shell

Homemade Method

This method is probably the most used in your kitchen.  Basically, it is just mixing fruits with sugar, flour, and other spices then placed in a shell and baked.

Flour or cornstarch will act as the thickener in these pies and will do so as it bakes.

The advantage here to this method is it’s definitely the easiest method to assemble.  As a general rule, most pies take about 40-60 minutes baked at this method.  Pies like apple, cherry, blueberry, and peach come to mind with this common method.

Cooking time will always vary depending on the type of fruit used as the harder fruits like apples and peaches will take longer to bake than cherries and blueberries.

A good example of this method is my Blueberry Crostata where everything is assembled in a bowl and placed in the dough, ready for the oven.  I LOVE blueberry, it is probably one of my favorites!!!

Blueberry Crostata ready for the oven

What is your favorite to bake?

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