I had no idea I’d be making strawberry pie this week, let alone developing my own strawberry pie recipe; but when I spotted a u-pick strawberry sign on the way to our cabin last Saturday, it quickly got added to the agenda. Strawberry season is pretty much over and done with back home. The kids were busy with end of the year projects and finals when the berries were ready to pick, so we just never made it to our local patch.
I was really bummed that we wouldn’t be adding any strawberry jam to the freezer this year. But, something cool I’ve discovered about our cabin: the weather up there is about two weeks behind our weather back home. And that means strawberry season is also two weeks behind. Woo hoo! Gotta love second chances, especially when berries are involved.
So, we picked four gallons of berries Monday morning, and by Monday night, I had 15 pints of strawberry freezer jam safely tucked in the basement freezer and plenty of berries left to play with. I had somehow made it 35 years without making a strawberry pie, and I decided that needed to change. But, as you probably know, most strawberry pie recipes call for Jello, and that didn’t exactly excite me. So, I dug and dug until I found a strawberry pie recipe that didn’t call for Jello, and I made it.
It was good; everyone enjoyed it, but I knew I could do better. So, I pulled some more berries out of the fridge, and got to work developing my own recipe. I like to keep things simple, so this recipe is as simple as I could get it. Aside from the strawberries, it just calls for cornstarch, sugar and salt. It turns out you don’t need that Jello at all because everything gelled beautifully. And you know what? When you keep things this simple, you can actually taste the berries. And if you ask me, that’s how it should be. Want to take my strawberry pie for a test drive? Here’s the recipe.
6 cups strawberries
3/4 cup granulated sugar
5 Tbsp corn starch
1/2 tsp salt
(2) pie crusts
What You Do:
Measure out six cups of strawberries. Wash, hull and cut them into halves or quarters. If you have small berries, halves will do. If you have large berries, you may need to quarter them.
If you don’t own a strawberry huller, I recommend getting one. They make quick work of removing the tops from strawberries, and they eliminate waste. There are lots of fancy versions on the market these days, but honestly this old-school version gets the job done. I own four (one for each family member, so I can recruit helpers).
Once you’ve prepped your berries, toss them with the cornstarch, sugar and salt.
Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Then, press a chilled pie crust into a 9″ pie plate. There’s nothing difficult about making your own crust, but I’m sort of a spontaneous pie maker, so I like to keep ready-made crusts in the freezer. I just find I’m more inclined to make pie when I get to skip the pie crust making and the mess that goes along with it. It only takes about 30 minutes to thaw frozen pie crust on the counter.
Pour your strawberries into your crust, and spread them out evenly.
Then, add your top crust, and seal the edges. You can flute the edges, press them closed with a fork or just pinch them shut, like I did. Be sure to cut some slits in the center of your pie for steam to escape.
And this is my secret to perfectly cooked edges. It’s a silicone pie shield. It fits over the edge of your pie, so they don’t burn while you’re waiting for the center to cook. It works so much better than aluminum foil, which tends to slide off, and it’s adjustable, so it fits on multiple pie plate sizes. I’ve been using a pie shield for a few years now, and I love it. I was lucky enough to find a second one in a thrift store last week, so now I can cook two pies at once. Woo hoo!
Okay, once your pie is ready for the oven, slide it onto a foil or parchment-lined cookie sheet, and pop it in the oven. The cookie sheet will catch any overflow, so your oven stays clean.
Bake for 10 minutes at 450 degrees. Then, turn the oven down to 350, and continue baking for approximately 50 minutes. Your pie is done when the crust is golden brown.
Remove your pie from the oven, and allow it to come to room temperature before you cut it. This will allow the pie to gel, so you get nice, clean slices. You can slice it sooner, but it’ll have more of a cobbler consistency, with lots of strawberry juices oozing out.
Here’s what it’ll look like if you allow your pie to cool first. See how beautifully it gelled? Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I’m going to go eat a slice.