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Blueberry Blunder [Jan. 5th, 2009|08:26 am]


Last summer I discovered a type of blueberry called "Ivanhoe". So delicious! They are sweet like a blueberry should be, with a hint of underlying tartness and spiciness. I bought more than my family could eat fresh in anticipation of the blueberry muffins, blueberry pancakes and blueberry pies I knew we would want during these long, cold winter months.

On New Year's Day, I made a pie. O! The anticipation! We'd been waiting for this pie since summer, after all.

It was the worst pie, ever. The sugar didn't cook, the pie interior didn't thicken, and after a short time, the crust sogged itself back down into the filling. The filling was a runny, sugar-gritty mess that was nowhere near what a pie filling should be.

Like Clark in that scene in Christmas Vacation when the lights should have lit up, but didn't, I stood there and stared at my pie in extravagant puzzlement. All the bulbs were screwed into the strands, all the light strands were connected to one another. All the ingredients were there and accounted for and in the correct measure, the pie was cooked at the proper temperature and for the right length of time. So where did it all go wrong?

Of course, that pie used up nearly all of my store of those frozen berries, so now there's just enough of them left for maybe one more set of pancakes. Thus, I feel the loss of the pie doubly: not only did we fail to get the pie we've been so looking for, but in addition the berries that have worked so well in other contexts are no longer there.

I'm waiting for that Eureka! moment where someone will realize the lights weren't plugged into the socket, and eagerly await the solving of this mystery. Any ideas on where it all went wrong? Could it be the beloved berries?

[User Picture]From: c_star
2009-01-05 05:43 pm (UTC)
Did you start with teh berries forzen or did you deforst and drain them? If they were frozen did you toss them in cornstarch or flour. I have found when working with frozen berries the amount of water released is astromonical. much different hten from fresh.
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[User Picture]From: fiveandfour
2009-01-05 07:04 pm (UTC)
I did start with them frozen when I tossed with the various ingredients. This has always worked perfectly for me (in fact, don't think I've ever done a blueberry pie with the berries fresh), hence part of my puzzlement. Now I wonder if there's just something different about the water content of this particular strain of berries that led to my problem...
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[User Picture]From: ouraboros
2009-01-05 07:27 pm (UTC)
maybe not enough pectin in the berries? i believe pectin is what thickens jellies and pie filling?

Properties of pectin:


You can't underheat or overheat it, or the pectin will not gel properly. That would explain the runniness and the crust getting soggy, since ideally you want the gel to set fast enough that the water doesn't get into the crust. Acidity also matters; perhaps some more lemon juice was needed.

Personally, this is why I prefer blueberry cobbler - no crust to collapse. I recommend the Cook's Illustrated version of their cobbler. Good luck!
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[User Picture]From: fiveandfour
2009-01-05 08:51 pm (UTC)
Hmmmm...interesting. As I've never had this issue with blueberry pie before, I am interested to see if pectin was my culprit (I guess a little testing and experimentation is in order). Based on the descriptions at that website, it seems a fairly good candidate as my problem creator.
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