Garden, Plant, Cook!

Monday, February 06, 2012

Apple Pie - Oh My - Blossom to pie - What's a pie kit?

Dear Folks,

Yesterday I made an apple pie from one of my frozen pie kits, and yesterday Deane took the photo of the new blossoms on our Golden Dorsett apple tree.

Last June and July I experimented with "pie kits" as a way of preserving the bounty of our fruit trees.  I made peach, apricot and apple.  The apple pie yesterday was the last of the kits, so now I can't wait until fruit maturity this summer to make some fresh and more frozen to enjoy through the year.

What's a pie kit?  Basically you prepare the fruit with all sugar and spices as you would for fresh, and then freeze it.  I used ziplock bags although if you have quart mason jars you might like that as a better option if you have the freezer space.  Label with date and fruit type.

Now comes the time when you want to make the pie.  First (disclaimer) I buy commercial pie crusts - I REALLY have to kick myself into learning how to make a good crust.  I've just always been a better cook than a baker :-)

Have your pie crust(s) ready.  Then thaw out the pie kit, in a colander, in a bowl to catch the juices.  When completely thawed, pour the juices into a sauce pan, bring to a boil and reduce by 1/3 to 1/2.

I found the first time I just poured the whole thawed kit into the crust there was too much liquid (as the freezing/thawing process releases a lot of juice) and a lot of it was lost oozing out of the pie while it baked.

THE Pie Recipe

Have a bowl of water with a bit of lemon juice, to keep fruit from darkening after cutting.

Core and cut up 6-8 apples into half inch slices (I personally do not peel my fruit - I like the texture and fiber it gives to the pies).  I found with thicker slices there was a lot of 'air' in the filling and the pie would collapse once the apples began to bake down.  You want about 3-4 cups of sliced fruit.  For apricots or peaches you will usually need more fruit to make the volume.

Once you have all the fruit cut, drain in a bowl
MIX well together
sprinkle of salt (about 1/8 to quarter teaspoon)
2/3 cup of mixed 50/50 white and brown sugar
1 teaspoon cinnamon (Use the real good stuff - Ceylon)
2 tablespoons of flour

Sprinkle over the cut fruit, toss well but gently.   Spoon into freezer bags or quart mason jar, label, date and freeze.


Have your crust ready.  Keep the crust that will be the bottom, chilled or frozen.  I like to make cut outs from the top crust and then use the cut outs to decorate the pie.

Have about 1 tablespoon of butter cut into slivers ready, chilled
1 teaspoon of cinnamon sugar

Thaw the fruit, catch the juice and boil the juice down by 1/3 to 1/2.

Preheat oven to 450 along with any tray you will be putting the pie on.

Place fruit in pie shell, pour reduced juices over, dot with the butter.
Place the top crust on, crimp edges to retain juices, sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temperature to 350 and continue baking until you can see the juices bubbling and the crust is nice and brown.  Ovens vary - it will be another 30-45 minutes (for a total of 45-60 minutes).  Check at the 30 minute mark (at that point a total of 45 minutes) after you turn the oven down.

For peach pie you have the same process.  If apricots, Deane likes the pie with more sugar to compensate for apricots nice tang.

Use your freezer to take full advantage of the bounty your fruit trees give you.

Last year I also did a blog on sun drying the fruit - they turned out really well.

Enjoy our spring!

-- Catherine, The Herb Lady