The Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge: Your Photos and Stories and our Top Picks

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote here about rummaging through my post-winter freezer and digging out little baggies of frozen fruit to make a pie. Frugal chap that I am, I wanted to use up these remnants before starting a new fresh fruit pie season. I challenged you to do the same, and to send along photos of your creations. I called it the Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge.

Chad Nelson - Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge

A number of you did – like Chad Nelson, whose Triple Berry Lime Pie you see above. Chad writes that “this is a pretty simple pie we make a lot for family get-togethers in the summer time. Basically, it’s about a pound of frozen berry medley – strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries – some sugar, a healthy dose of lime zest and juice, and either cornstarch or tapioca as a thickener. I prefer the tapioca because it seems to handle the abundance of liquid better.”

Chad goes on to say that his wife will sometimes make a lime infused whipped cream to go on top. Love the pie bird, Chad.

Longtime Pie Academy member and multiple Lowcountry Pie Getaway attendee Deb Simmons sent along her photo of her Peach-Blueberry-Cherry Pie.

The Pie Academy Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge

Deb tells me that her peaches were from last year’s CSA harvest; the cherries and berries were store-bought. She used tapioca for the thickener, nutmeg and almond extract for flavor – love the sound of that! – and opted for the lattice top to show off the fruit. The pie “slumped” a little when she first cut it because it was still warm, but her family assured her that the pie was a huge success. Sure looks like it.

Deb Krummel wrote that, up until now, she’d only used fresh strawberries in pies – her family loves fresh strawberry pie. But this time she used frozen strawberries and blueberries, rinsing them to remove the ice crystals.

The Pie Academy Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge

She combined the fruit in her power blender with lemon juice, flour, tapioca, and Splenda.  Then she added some lemon juice, fresh blueberries and strawberries, and a top crust. The verdict? “The men gave it a high rating so if I have leftover frozen fruit next year, then I will make it happen again.” (It looks like the men nearly polished off the pie before she was able to snap a photo of the last piece.)

Lee Daley, our good Pie Academy friend and frequent correspondent, also baked up a lattice top pie for our Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge.

The Pie Academy Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge

Lee writes that he didn’t have any frozen berries lingering in the freezer, but went out and bought some because he really wanted to participate in our Challenge. He made his dough the day before, mixed all the berries together, and baked the pie in his deep-dish glass pie plate. Lee’s lattice tells me that he knows his way around a good pie. Thanks, Lee.

Deb Schier emailed that she is a beginner pie baker, adding that she hasn’t created too many pretty pies, “but I do try to make them tasty.” (Note to Deb: don’t worry too much about pretty pies, especially if you’re just starting out. They’ll get prettier. I always say that some of my favorite pies have been my ugliest ones.)

The Pie Academy Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge

Her mixed berry and apple pie, above, looks plenty tasty to me.

Deb’s fruit mixture was ambitious: blackberries, cranberries, blueberries, apples, boiled cider, sugar and a handful of flavorings. She used ClearJel to thicken the filling. The topping is an almond butter crumb topping, which sounds spectacularly good. “It was pretty darn tasty,” she wrote, and the filling was just the right mix of sweet and sour.

Pie Academy member Karen Pellettera reminded us that some of the best pies aren’t necessarily baked in a pie pan. That’s her mixed berry crostata below, made with raspberries, blueberries and blackberries. Instead of lemon juice, she tarted it up with some sections of mashed seedless mandarins – clever touch, Karen. Once out of the oven she slathered her creation with fruit preserves to give the pie a lovely sheen.

The Pie Academy Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge

Finally, Ellen Gray sent an entertaining love letter to pie – “my passion and my profession, a year round opportunity to showcase fruit, despite the dictates of the calendar.” As I did with my own freezer fruit pie that sparked this Challenge, Ellen wondered how best to “restore the vibrancy (of the fruit), intensify the flavor, and ensure a filling without an overabundance of runaway juices.”

Her secret? Ellen precooks and thickens some of the fruit filling, mixing in frozen fruit for the remaining filling, then tops the pie with a cornmeal and oatmeal crumble. She’s quick to point out that it makes a pie, pictured below, that’s as good for dessert as it is for breakfast.

Thanks to all of you who rose to the Freezer Fruit Pie Challenge. It was fun getting your photos, hearing your stories, and learning about your clever ways with leftover baggies of frozen fruit. Makes me think we ought to do some sort of challenge more often.

I did mention that there would be some prizes for the top three entries, and while you all deserve recognition for your participation, we’ve decided that top prize – a copy of my new book, The Harvest Baker – goes to Chad Nelson for his Triple Berry Lime Pie. 2nd and 3rd place prizes – complimentary access to my new video pie course (sorry, can’t quite reveal the title yet) – go to Lee Daley and Deb Simmons.

This challenge was fun and the level of participation was gratifying. Thanks again for taking part.

PIE ZERO TO PIE HERO: The latest Amazon review…

I recommend this book to everyone who has ever wanted to make a pie… If Ken can help me, I know he can help you!

Find the ebook here on Amazon.