Using Frozen Berries to Make Pie Filling
I love making homemade pies with fresh fruit. We go blueberry picking each year, and there is the honorary pie made with freshly picked blueberries. But local fresh fruit isn’t always available throughout the year. Berry picking doesn’t usually start until July here in Oregon. Which means I’ll need to hold out for fresh fruit pies a little longer. But that doesn’t mean I have to wait to eat homemade pie! Let me show you how to make a delicious berry pie with frozen berries! 🫐🍓
Do I Have to Thaw Frozen Berries Before Baking Them Into a Pie?
As fruit thaws, it releases a lot of moisture and juice. To avoid this happening while your pie is in the oven, causing a mushy or runny pie, I suggest to gently cook your berries before adding them as a pie filling. All the moisture from the ice melts and the juices are released from the berries before it goes into the oven. This way, you can control the texture of the pie filling for a perfectly baked pie each time.
How Do I Bake a Pie with Frozen Berries?
I’ve gotten the best results from my pies when I cooked the fruit on the stove until it’s warmed through. Then add cornstarch and bring everything to a boil as it bubbles away for a minute. As the filling cools to room temperature, it thickens an incredible amount, ensuring the ideal berry filling for the ultimate flavor and texture. AND my favorite part of this recipe is that you don’t need to blind bake the pie crust. Just assemble, bake and voilà! You have delicious, warm berry pie made with frozen berries!
How Do I Thicken Pie Filling with Cornstarch?
The other benefit to cooking your frozen berries first is that it allows the added cornstarch to thicken. Cornstarch has to come to a boil in order for the starch to reach its full thickening capability. Adding cornstarch to a mixture of frozen or fresh berries and hoping it will thicken in the oven as everything bakes isn’t a guarantee.
Making the Perfect Flaky Pie Crust
There are many tips and tricks to making the perfectly flaky, crispy, golden pie crust. And once you get the hang of making the crust, you can get creative with your pie decorations! Use your fingers to create a pretty scalloped edge around the top of the crust. And cookie cutters create whimsical shapes to add a creative pie crust top!
What is a Trick to Making Great Pie Crust?
My biggest advice (after learning from experience…) to making an amazing pie crust is to KEEP THE BUTTER COLD. At all costs, do not let the butter in your pie crust get warm and soft. Or worse, melt. Or worse, expelled. (Sorry, had to for my fellow Harry Potter fans.)
When you place your pie in the hot oven, water within the cold butter creates steam, which in turn creates the beautiful flaky layers in your pie crust. If the butter in your pie crust softens or melts before being baked, it’s not the end of the world. Your pie crust might turn out more tough and crumbly. If you do start to feel that your butter is melting in the crust, just pop it back in the fridge for 15 minutes. The butter will cool and harden again.
What Type of Fat Should I Use in My Pie Crust?
Some recipes call for shortening or a mixture of butter and shortening. I used vegetable shortening once in a gingerbread house, and while it has a higher melting point than butter, it tastes gross. Well, it sort of tastes like nothing along with a weird aftertaste. Unsalted butter with a high fat content is the way to go, if you can get your hands on some. Unsalted butter allows you to control the exact amount of salt you’re adding to your pie crust. And a higher fat content means there’s less moisture in your butter. Therefore, the butter will remain solid a bit longer in the oven, creating an even flakier pie crust.
Berry Pie with Frozen Berries
Flaky Pie Crust
- 4 cups all-purpose flour
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cubed and cold in the fridge
- ½ – 1 cup ice cold water
- 1 egg (for the egg wash, applied just before baking)
Berry Pie Filling
- 32 ounces frozen berries (I used a mix of raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries)
- 2 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 Tbsp lemon zest
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup cornstarch
Make the Pie Crust
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cinnamon. Toss the cold cubed butter into the dry mixture. Squeeze each piece of butter between your fingers and your thumb to flatten and break it down a bit. The butter pieces should roughly be the size of half a walnut.
- Add the ice cold water one tablespoon at a time and mix with a fork until it holds its shape when squeezed in the palm of your hand.
- Divide the dough into a larger disc and a slightly smaller disk. Wrap both discs individually in plastic cling wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Make the Pie Filling
- On medium heat in a large saucepan, cook the berries, lemon juice, lemon zest, cinnamon and granulated sugar for about 10 minutes, until the berries release their juice.
- Stir in the cornstarch and increase the heat to high. Boil for one minute, then remove the saucepan from the heat. Let cool to room temperature to thicken fully.
Assemble and Bake the Pie
- Grease a 10-inch (or similar) pie dish. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the larger pie disc until it will fit into your pie dish. You can measure if it's big enough by turning the pie dish upside down above your rolled-out pie crust. Gently transfer the pie crust into the pie dish. I find it easiest to roll my pie crust onto my rolling pin, then unroll it directly into the pie dish. If the butter has started to soften in your crust, put it back in the fridge for at least 15 minutes, until the butter cools and hardens.
- Pour the thickened room-temperature berry filling into the pie crust. Store it in the fridge again while you prepare the top pie crust.
- On a lightly floured surface, roll out the smaller disc of pie crust. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes from the pie crust. (Store any extra crust in the fridge or freezer for other tasty treats!)
- Add the cut-out shapes of pie crust on top of the pie filling.
- Whisk the egg in a small bowl, then brush onto the pie crust. Bake for 20 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 375°F and bake for another 45 – 60 minutes, until the crust is golden. Allow to cool for at least 30 minutes, then slice up and enjoy!