How-To & Diy

Tips for Firmer Fruit Fillings

July 13, 2013

There are so many great conversations on the Hotline -- it's hard to choose a favorite. But we'll be doing it, once a week, to spread the wealth of our community's knowledge -- and to keep the conversation going.

Tips for Firmer Fruit Fillings, from Food52

We can’t get enough of fruit fillings in pies, buckles, crumbles, and their more flamboyantly named kin. (If you can’t either, there’s still time to enter the current contest!) A foundation of warm fruit in a dessert is delicious, but too much liquid and your bottom crust is soaked, or you’ve got a serving of fruit soup instead of a crisp

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Cristinasciarra made a raspberry pie that tasted great, but wasn’t holding together, so she turned to the Hotline for help. The best ideas we’ve seen?

  • Adding in another fruit that’s high in pectin, like a grated Granny Smith apple or a puréed kiwi, from hardlikearmour.
  • HalfPint shares a trick that involves macerating the fruit, then simmering and reducing the collected juice -- creating a syrup to pour over the fruit before it’s baked.
  • Multiple users recommend the addition of tapioca. Lapadia is a fan of instant (or quick cooking) tapioca and breaks down the specifics: "It needs to be mixed with the pie filling ingredients and sit for about 10 minutes to allow the beads to soften and start to absorb the juices. Later, while the filling is baking, the beads swell and become transparent, ending with a filling that is not too runny or thick, with a beautiful glossy sheen. Note: don’t confuse instant with regular tapioca. I use 3 tablespoons instant tapioca per 4 cups berries."
  • Pegreen adds another tip that can be used in conjuntion with tapioca -- blind-baking the bottom crust, and then lining it with a layer of thinly rolled cold almond paste.

What are your best tips for avoiding runny fruit fillings? Add your two cents to the question on the Hotline here or continue the conversation in the comments below! 

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Valerie Stivers
    Valerie Stivers
  • barbara simon
    barbara simon
  • calendargirl
  • fearlessem
  • Marian Bull
    Marian Bull
I like esoteric facts about vegetables. Author of the IACP Award-nominated cookbook, Cooking with Scraps.


Valerie S. July 15, 2013
I have pie crusts with the air holes on the bottom, and think it helps to keep the bottom crust crispy. I don't pre-bake and it's usually fine. I also toss tapioca flour with my fillings, but i'm still experimenting with that.
barbara S. July 15, 2013
I use clearjel when I can pie filling during the summer months as it doesn't break down during baking the way regular cornstarch does. Prebaking the bottom crust, and precooking the filling on the stove will shorten the baking time and also help prevent a soggy crust, if you use a firmer bottom crust.
calendargirl July 14, 2013
My mother always used to put down a thin layer of fruit jam or jelly on the bottom of the crust before adding the filling, but I can't wait to try Pegreen's almond paste!
fearlessem July 14, 2013
To me it is all about using more than you'd think... I make a killer blueberry pie, from berries we freeze in the summer (and frozen berries tend to give off more juices). For one 9 inch pie, we use 3 Tablespoons of corn starch and 3 Tablespoons of flour, and blend those with the sugar before adding them to about 6 cups of berries. It may look like a lot of thickener, but it produces a perfectly textured pie -- sliceable but not gelatinous.
Marian B. July 14, 2013
Whoah, Pegreen, you just blew my mind with that almond paste tip.
Rinchen July 14, 2013
Allesbinder is the best product I know of. Find it in a Dutch grocery.
crcmen July 14, 2013
Instant ClearJel from works great every time. I've been using it for years! The amount of Clearjel you need depends on the juiciness of your fruit. Apples are not quite dry but have a lot of pectin, natural thickener; use about 1 to 2 tablespoons of Clearjel in a typical 9” pie. Berries can be very juicy; a raspberry or mixed berry pie will probably need 3 to 5 tablespoons Clearjel, depending in whether you want the filling to be somewhat runny, or very stiff. Even using the maximum amount of Clearjel will result in a pleasing, “soft” gel, unlike the stiff, hard gel you’d get with gelatin.
Fitchburg1 July 14, 2013
I sprinkle ~3T of the tapioca and sugar mixture on the bottom of the pie crust before adding the fruit mixture.
jamcook July 16, 2013
I find hat too much of one kind of thickener has drawbacks. I find that all cornstarch makes pies a little too gluey, and all flour , a little too pasty. For six cups of a very juicy filling, I combine the two.. About 3 Tablespoons of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of flour or a combination of instant tapioca and cornstarch and flour. This may sound like a lot but the pie still bubbles nice
jamcook July 16, 2013
Nicely and has plenty of flavorful juice. One also must exercise restraint and let,the at least an hour. If baked in Pyrex or ceramic it will still be nice and warm after a few hours.i