I Started Adding This Surprising Ingredient to Fresh Fruit Pies, and They’re the Best I’ve Ever Made
I am a recent convert to fruit pie making, having grown up in a household that landed firmly in the cake/cookie/bar end of the baking spectrum. Pies were essentially reserved for Thanksgiving, and even then, were often either store bought or assigned to guests to bring, and more often than not were of the French Silk or pecan variety.
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But I have an affinity for fruit pies, especially in summer, and my husband is from Kentucky, so once we met it became important to me to get my fruit pie game strong. One of the hardest things about any fruit pie, whether you are using a store-bought crust or a scratch-made version, is keeping the filling from getting soupy and sogging out the bottom crust.
You will find your own way in terms of thickeners: Some pie bakers like flour, some cornstarch, and I confess I have fallen in love with tapioca starch. But I have developed a secret weapon for my fruit pies that I think both helps mitigate bogginess, and also boosts flavor.
Two words: Dried. Fruit.
Dried fruit and how it will revolutionize your summer pies
Here’s the trick: Add between a quarter cup to a half cup of the dried version of whatever fruit you’re using in the pie to the filling.
Here’s how it works: As the fresh fruit pieces release their juices, the dried fruit soaks them up and rehydrates, providing little nuggets of textural difference, slightly intensifying the overall flavor, and helping de-soup the filling.
Insider tip: Be sure to use freshly purchased dried fruit for this, it should be reasonably soft and pliable, and be sure it is unsweetened. You want natural dried fruit, not candied. Apples, pears, peaches, and apricots can be chopped into small pieces; smaller fruits like dried cherries, blueberries, and the like can be used whole.
What if you can't find a dried version of the fruit in your pie? There’s a solution! Think about a complementary flavor: Dried white mulberries work in any raspberry or blackberry pie; apricots work with peaches, nectarines, and plums. Apple is a pretty neutral flavor, so can be a good generic addition. Or go for contrast: dried cherries in a peach pie or prunes or raisins in an apple pie.
Experiment with what works best for you: I begin with a scant quarter cup in a galette or with a fruit that is not known to be overly juicy but will go up to a half cup in a deep pie or with something that is known for wetness. Just know this: Your pies, and pie-eating guests, will thank you forever.