How To Make Fruit Pie Filling

How To Make Fruit Pie Filling

For fruit pies and tarts, choose seasonal fruit that’s ripe but not too soft to slice. As a rule of thumb, you’ll need four to five cups of fruit for one single- or double-crust pie. Frozen fruit makes a good substitute if you can’t find fresh, but don’t thaw the fruit before mixing it with sugar and thickener. The amount of sugar needed will vary according to the fruit you’re using. For example, most berries are quite tart, and need as much as a cup of sugar; the exception is blueberries, which need less sugar and even a bit of lemon juice to balance their flavor.

Tip

Be careful when baking with strawberries: They tend to turn unattractively brown when baked, and are best used in chiffon pies or unbaked tarts.

About Thickeners

Thickeners keep fruit juices from puddling at the bottom of the pie; they also balance the sugar, which tends to draw liquid out of the fruit. Apple pies need little or no thickener, because apples contain a thickener, pectin.

Otherwise, you have several choices:

  • Cornstarch — Flavorless; cook thoroughly to avoid starchiness.
  • Tapioca — Use quick-cooking or instant tapioca. Mix with the fruit and sugar and let stand for five to fifteen minutes. Tapioca is an excellent choice for berry pies: the texture of the tapioca is concealed by the texture of the berries.
  • Flour — Must be thoroughly cooked to avoid grittiness. Best used with low-acid fruits such as pears and peaches.

For fruits other than berries, a one-to-one mixture of cornstarch and tapioca generally works well—many recipes call for 2 tablespoons of each. Mix the thickeners with salt, sugar, and other flavorings such as lemon juice or cinnamon, and toss with the fruit. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes before pouring into the pie shell.