Frozen pie is certainly convenient, but nothing can really beat the taste of a freshly baked, scratch-made pie. But what if you could have the best of both worlds? The convenience of a frozen pie, and the delicious taste of a homemade pie filled with fresh, ripe fruit. It sounds a bit too good to be true!
At least that’s what I thought before my daughter Britta told me about this trick she learned while watching old episodes of the Food Network show “Good Eats,” with by Alton Brown. One of the episodes she watched was about blueberries, and in one of the segments Alton demonstrated how to freeze pie filling, to make a delicious blueberry pie later. When she finished telling us about it, I thought to myself (yet again!): “Well why didn’t I think of that?”
Since I believe pie is universally considered to be a “good thing,” I thought you all might like this idea as much as I do. It’s a simple, practical, and most importantly, delicious way to have a flavorful, in-season fruit pie any time of the year. So let’s get started!
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Frozen Blueberry Pie Filling
- 20 ounces fresh blueberries, divided
- 5 Tbsp tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1 tsp orange zest, freshly grated
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 Tbsp orange juice
Start by placing half of your blueberries on a sheet tray, and set the other half of the blueberries off to the side for later. Take something with a flat bottom, like a bread loaf pan or square cake pan, and use it to press down on the blueberries on the sheet pan. The even pressure of a flat surface crushes the blueberries without destroying them. Crushing also helps to release the natural pectin in the blueberries, which will help the pie filling to gel after it bakes (so you’re not left with a soupy pie).
In a large bowl, mix together the tapioca flour, sugar, orange zest, and salt.
Next, add the blueberries (both whole and crushed) to the bowl, along with the tablespoon of orange juice. Mix until everything is well incorporated, then let it rest for about 15 minutes.
While the filling is resting, line a 9-inch pie plate with aluminum foil. After the rest period, pour the filling into the lined pie plate, and place the pie plate in your freezer overnight (or for at least 6 hours.)
When the filling is properly frozen, pull the foil out of the pie pan and peel the foil away from the frozen filling. Place your disc of frozen pie filling in a freezer bag, and store it in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Using Your Frozen Pie Filling
When you’re ready to make your pie, prepare a pie pan with your favorite homemade pie crust. Or you could even thaw out some store-bought frozen pie dough and use that! No judgment here. I think Alton Brown says it best in that episode of Good Eats: “Yes, homemade dough would be best, but I’d rather you make your own pie with store-bought dough, than to not make your pie at all.” Wise words, Alton! :-)
Here’s where things get even more interesting – you don’t need to thaw the pie filling before using it. Just pop the frozen disc of pie filling directly onto the dough in your pie pan. Place a second layer of rolled-out pie dough over the top, either in one piece or as latticed strips, whatever strikes your fancy. Brush the top with an egg wash (1 egg yolk whisked with a small amount of water,) and you’re ready to bake!
Bake your pie in a 325 degree oven for 1 hour and 15 minutes. Take it out of the oven and let it cool for AT LEAST an hour and a half. That’s 90 minutes of NO. TOUCHING. ALLOWED. This cooling/resting time allows the pie filling to achieve that delicious, gooey texture. Cutting into it early will only end in runny, soupy heartbreak. Nobody wants to experience that!
What Other Pie Fillings Can I Freeze?
If you’re the curious type, you may already be asking yourself, “Can I use this method with other fruits besides blueberries?” Because who wouldn’t want a freezer full of different kinds of frozen pie filling, all made with deliciously sweet, in-season fruits?
I checked out Alton Brown’s website with my fingers crossed, and it did not disappoint! In addition to the frozen blueberry pie recipe, you can find recipes for a frozen strawberry pie and a frozen peach pie.
The method appears to be pretty similar for all three pies, so I’m fairly confident you would be successful if you wanted to try out other fruits. How about a nice mixed berry pie? Mmmm…