There’s no doubt that apple and pumpkin are among some of the most popular pie varieties, but nothing beats a fresh berry or peach pie, especially when the fruits are at their peak. Now, imagine cleaning handfuls of fresh cherries, drying them off and taking time to prepare the filling mixture. You’ve rolled out the crust, baked off the pie and let it cool. The vanilla ice cream is ready and you cut the first piece, only to see your filling run around the pie plate, creating a mushy crust. How can you keep your pie from running and what pie thickeners are appropriate? We asked Food Network Kitchens for their expertise.
The “juiciness” that happens when fruit cooks in a pie is most copious with fruits like berries and peaches, fruits that have a lot of juice, especially during the summer. We use thickeners to add body to these juices so that they can stay inside the pie — or at least close to it — so when we cut into it, the crust stays crisp and the whole thing is more fun to eat.
When thickening a fruit pie filling, there are several options to consider. Very often flour or cornstarch is used, but in certain instances tapioca, arrowroot and potato starch can also help achieve the desired consistency.
Tapioca starch is preferable for products that will be frozen because it will not break down when thawed. We like tapioca in blueberry, cherry or peach pies.
Arrowroot, unlike cornstarch, is not broken down by the acid in the fruit you are using so it is a good choice for fruit with a higher content of acidity such as strawberries or blackberries.
Potato starch is a great alternative because unlike other options, it does not break down, causing your pie to become watery again.
Although these options might result in a better end product, plain old flour also works just fine.
Now that you’re armed with these tips, start baking the summer’s fresh bounty of fruit. Try one of these pie recipes from Food Network Magazine (pictured above):