Thickeners for raspberry pie?

Hello all,

I'm working on a raspberry pie recipe, and today was the first pass. I was happy with the flavor, but ran into an issue: it was very liquidy and runny. I used 1/4 cup of cornstarch (for 5 cups of berries). I'm wondering now if I should simply add more cornstarch (and if so, how much more), or if I should use another thickener, like xanthan gum (again, how much?). Does anyone have an opinion on this? Of course I want the pie to be juicy, but it does need to hold together at least a bit when sliced into!

Thanks!

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HalfPint
HalfPint July 10, 2013

I sometimes see pie recipes that call for using cake crumbs or breadcrumbs to soak up liquids exuded by fruit. Might want to try that.

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HalfPint
HalfPint July 10, 2013

Also, some cooks recommend taking about half or more of the fruit/sugar/thickener mixture and cook it until it thickens to your liking. Then mix it within uncooked fruit. Then bake.

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hardlikearmour
hardlikearmour July 10, 2013

I'd consider adding in some pectin in the form of a grated granny smith or a puréed kiwi fruit. I'd also consider switching to tapioca.

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Voted the Best Reply!

Maedl
Maedl July 11, 2013

I would try tapioca, too. It thickens the pie, but you don't get the 'frog egg soup' texture that you might expect. I would try the tapioca without pectin, because that should be enough to produce a good consistency. If it doesn't, then try adding some pectin--but I think you might have trouble with the timing. Doesn't pectin have to be cooked for a certain amount of time and no more? The label on the tapioca box should give some info on how much tapioca to use. If it doesn't check 'Joy of Cooking' under pies.

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Maedl
Maedl July 11, 2013

Another idea, and I have no idea how well this would work. Carageenan is used as a thickener--and it is tasteless. It is a dried seaweed, widespread, but used in Ireland.I've had it served as carageenan pudding.

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lapadia
lapadia July 11, 2013

Hi!
I use Instant (or quick cooking) tapioca in my berry pies, it helps to maximize thickening. Should you try it, 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. On the other hand I’ve heard rave reviews using pectin as hardlikearmour mentioned. Link to my onsite berry pie for reference: http://food52.com/recipes...

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Maedl
Maedl July 11, 2013

If anyone has used pectin in pies, I'd like a report! How is the texture compared to cornstarch or tapioca? Any recipes?

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hardlikearmour
hardlikearmour July 11, 2013

When I mentioned pectin it was in the form of a high pectin fruit like a granny smith apple or a kiwi. I use a grated granny smith with tapioca starch to thicken blueberry pies per a Cook's Illustrated recipe. I recently used a puréed kiwi to thicken a blueberry-apricot slab pie, an idea I had based on a strawberry jam recipe from the NY Times posted by Cathy Barrow (MrsWheelbarrow at f52). It allows for a lower amount of starch to be used, and makes for a delicious pie.

mrslarkin
mrslarkin July 11, 2013

hla, does the ripeness of the kiwi matter?

hardlikearmour
hardlikearmour July 11, 2013

@mrslarkin: I don't know if the ripeness matters. I used a pretty ripe one, and it worked well.

mrslarkin
mrslarkin July 11, 2013

My friend, a chef and baker, uses tapioca pearls in his berry pies. I've never tried it, but his pies are awesome.

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Maedl
Maedl July 11, 2013

Oh, now I get the pectin. Yes, another fruit high in pectin would be a good idea. My grandmother used to cook elderberries and apples for a jam--elderberries alone produced only a syrup.

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Maedl
Maedl July 11, 2013

I’ll bet gooseberries would be a good combination, tool

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bigpan
bigpan July 11, 2013

Our raspberry pie uses plump fresh berries.
Make a glaze by heating a cup of berries with 1/2cup water until soft and mushy. Put through a sieve to remove seeds. Stir in a couple tablespoons of corn starch dissolved in cold water and heat until you have a glaze.
Half fill a baked pie shell with fresh berries, drizzle with half the glaze. Repeat. Chill until set and serve with fresh whipped cream.
Soooo different than a cooked pie.

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Adianne
Adianne July 11, 2013

I like using tapioca. Use the recipe on the side of the box.

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Pegeen
Pegeen July 11, 2013

Another vote here for tapioca. Another tip (you could do both this and the tapioca) that prevents juices from soaking into a bottom crust is to blind-bake the bottom crust. Let it cool completely, then line it with a layer of cold almond paste, rolled thin. Almond is great with cherries but would also work with other stone fruits or berries. You can buy the almond paste or it's pretty easy, just more time-consuming, to make your own:
http://candy.about.com/od/nutcandyrecipes/r/Easy-Almond-Paste.htm
Enjoy your pie!

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Hilarybee
Hilarybee July 11, 2013

pegeen, I love the almond paste idea! I'm trying that this weekend with sour cherries. Genius!

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Pegeen
Pegeen July 11, 2013

Hilarybee, it is great with sour cherries! I forgot to say, if you use the almond paste, you can reduce the sugar in your berry mix a little. This is just my preference, but I like things on the tart/sour side, so I'd reduce any sugar in the fruit by 25%. The almond paste will provide a lot of sweetness.

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HalfPint
HalfPint July 12, 2013

Saw this and I think it might work without using a thickener.
http://www.thekitchn.com...

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Pegeen
Pegeen July 13, 2013

Yes, works beautifully. Have used Rose Levy Beranbaum's suggestion before for cherry/berry pies. Thank you for reminding of this simple solution.

Cristina Sciarra
Cristina Sciarra July 12, 2013

Thank you all so much for these replies! I think I'll try the tapioca, the pectin, and the macerate-simmer methods, and see what I like best.

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ChefJune
ChefJune July 12, 2013

I have never cared for cornstarch as a thickener for fruit pies. My farm-wife aunts and grandmother used bread, cake or cookie crumbs. If you use bread crumbs, make sure they don't have Italian seasoning or any flavor like that that might mix strangely with your fruit.

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Michele Hays
Michele Hays July 13, 2013

Something I do in pie emergencies (because, truthfully, it's hard to tell how much thickener you're going to need until the fruit releases its juice) I hover over the oven with a turkey baster. Once the pie starts to bubble out the top vents, if it looks too liquidy, I slurp out some of the liquid and reduce it on the stove. (You can also add some starch-based thickener at this point, but be careful not to add it to hot liquid as it will clump - make a slurry.) I then pour it back into the pie through the vent using a gravy boat. Nobody knows.

BTW, our local pie baker uses the crumbs from rolling out the pie dough as a thickener - pre-buttered flour bits, right? Works like a charm.

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Michele Hays
Michele Hays July 13, 2013

Something I do in pie emergencies (because, truthfully, it's hard to tell how much thickener you're going to need until the fruit releases its juice) I hover over the oven with a turkey baster. Once the pie starts to bubble out the top vents, if it looks too liquidy, I slurp out some of the liquid and reduce it on the stove. (You can also add some starch-based thickener at this point, but be careful not to add it to hot liquid as it will clump - make a slurry.) I then pour it back into the pie through the vent using a gravy boat. Nobody knows.

BTW, our local pie baker uses the crumbs from rolling out the pie dough as a thickener - pre-buttered flour bits, right? Works like a charm.

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Hallie Meyer
Hallie Meyer July 13, 2013

Make raspberry filling 30 minutes before assembling your pie. Drain the liquid that accumulates in the raspberry mixture and reduce it over medium heat so it's more of a syrup than all that extra water. Then pour your syrup over the raspberries and fill the pie!

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Samira Mahboubian
Samira Mahboubian July 15, 2013

Another trick that my mother used to use is Arrowroot since unlike cornstarch it does not need to come to a boil to stiffen the juices.

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Pegeen
Pegeen July 15, 2013

Samira - yes, my Mom used Arrowroot too. Now I'm wondering what the guidelines are for using arrowroot vs. cornstarch in terms of quantities. Anyone know?

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Michele Hays
Michele Hays July 15, 2013

Cook's Thesaurus is my go-to for questions like this: http://www.foodsubs.com...

The problem I have with cornstarch, potato starch, rice starch and arrowroot is that they have that distinct storebought-pie texture. I prefer wheat flour (like I said earlier, raw pie crust crumbles are best) or tapioca.

Pegeen
Pegeen July 16, 2013

Michele, the Cook's Thesaurus is a handy resource. Thanks!

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