Monday, September 24, 2012

How to freeze pies

We're coming up on Fall and the holidays. It's pie time!

Sorry, no advice on fitting them  inside!
For any holiday where pies are the traditional dessert, it can take a lot of prep time—time you probably want to spend making sure that turkey doesn’t turn the texture of sawdust. Freezing pies in advance is one way to cut down on the stress of Thanksgiving.

Not all pies can be frozen, of course. Cooked custard pies don’t freeze well. Fruit pies, however, like the perennial favorite apple, are great to freeze. So prep them now and you can simply pop them in the oven the day of: don’t thaw.

Here are a few tips and baking time adjustments to make sure your pies taste just as amazing as they would if you’d slaved all morning peeling, pitting and chopping.

Freezing unbaked pies
Some say that freezing an unbaked pie makes the crust soggy between the moisture of the freezer and the fruit. Others, however, report success with freezing unbaked pies.

Purdue University says you can freeze raw pumpkin pies: don’t bake the crust, pour in the cold custard filling, wrap well with plastic wrap and freeze. Make double sure it’s level in the freezer! When you’re ready, take off the plastic, pop it in the oven without thawing at 400°F for 10 minutes. Then reduce to 325°F to finish baking. Remember that even unfrozen pumpkin pies can take an hour to bake, so watch it carefully.

For fruit pies,
  • If you’re using a fruit that browns (like apples), don’t forget to include lemon juice in your filling to prevent too much discoloration.
  • Wrap well in plastic wrap before placing in the freezer.
  • Purdue says to add an extra Tbsp thickener to the filling and don’t cut steam vents before freezing.
  • Again from Purdue: when you’re ready to bake, do not thaw. Unwrap, cut the steam vents and put the pan on a cookie sheet (always a good idea!). Bake at 450°F for 15 to 20 minutes, then 375°F for 20 to 30 minutes, or until the top crust is brown.
  • You might also consider just making the filling in advance and freezing it. Thaw just until you can get it in the crust and it’s ready to use!
Freezing baked pies
Again, don’t freeze a baked custard pie, like a pumpkin pie. The texture just doesn’t hold up in the freezer.
When you’re freezing a pie you’ve already baked, make sure you:
  • Cool the pie completely before freezing.
  • Wrap well with plastic wrap.
  • To reheat them, Purdue recommends unwrapping the pies to let them stand at room temperature for 15 minutes. Then bake at 350°F until warm, approximately 30 minutes.
All frozen pies keep about 4 months in the freezer. Purdue also recommends using a crust with a higher fat content if you’re going to be freezing it.

My recommendation? Freeze unbaked pies. It’s less work than essentially baking them twice, and the after-freezer baking time is almost exactly the same whether you baked it first or not. Plus, your risk of a crust made soggy by trapped condensation from the first baking is a lot lower.

What do you think? Do you freeze pies? Baked or unbaked?


Krafthead said...

This is a really good idea! I think this may be the direction I go in from now on :) Thank you!

Just Jaime said...

Freezing pies seems like such a smart way to take some of the stress out of Thanksgiving! Great idea!

Diana said...

It is amazing to me that you MAKE pies, let alone freeze them. I just need more room in the freezer.

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