Since my haskapberries went bonkers this year, I thought I’d turn some into pie. The texture of these berries, which look like elongated blueberries and taste like a combination of tart boysenberry and wine grapes, is soft and juicier than blueberries.
Haskapberries! I think I finally picked the last of them yesterday. Not bad for a crop that ripened in the third week of May this year. The berries sweetened and softened on the bushes, too, making even the annoyingly clingiest bush easy to pick.
This recipe is an adaptation of my blackberry pie recipe, but it works for haskaps and all juicy berries, really. The main idea is to showcase the raw berry flavor and texture, but hold together the filling with a “paste” of cooked berries with a little thickener added.
Why am I so convinced this is the way to go? Ah yes, my juice factory with the last haskapberry pie I made:
Plan ahead: the pie crust, the berry sauce, and the finished pie all need to be chilled before serving. You’ll also need to buy some Clear Jel, a modified food starch that doesn’t break down after time, like corn starch does; you might substitute corn starch for less satisfactory results.
Makes one 9-inch pie.
- 5-6 cups fresh haskapberries, blueberries, blackberries, boysenberries, or any juicy berry
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons Clear Jel
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 prebaked and cooled pie shell (see recipe below)
The day before or several hours before you assemble the pie: prebake and cool a 9-inch pie crust.
In a small saucepan, combine 2 cups of berries and water. Mash berries well. Heat until boiling on medium high heat. In a small bowl, mix Clear Gel and sugar. When berries are boiling, add sugar mixture to berries, stirring constantly for one minute to set the starch and thicken the juice. When thick, remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Don’t omit the cooling process.
(Whoa!! A note from our sponsor about blueberries: You might want to add the fresh blueberries to the hot slurry mix instead of waiting for it to cool down so they soften a bit. Your goal is to have a fresh tasting pie, not cooked, but blueberries benefit from a little taming.)
Pour cooled sauce over top of rest of fresh berries in a large bowl. Stir gently to combine with sauce, trying not to break berries. Chill well, at least an hour before serving.
Slice with sharp knife and use pie server to aid transfer of servings, as the pie will be looser than pies made with cooked fruit. Top with whipped or ice cream.
Prebaked Pie Crust
1/4 cup cold water with ice cubes in it
3/4 teaspoon vinegar
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (I’ve tried soft pastry flour and white whole wheat; it never works as well as just plain ol’ flour)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
9 Tbsp. (4 ½ oz.) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
About 30 minutes before you plan to make the crust, throw butter and a bowl of iced water in the freezer.
Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in a food processor. Pulse a few times to blend, then add the chilled butter. Pulse until it looks like a coarse meal (the old way is to say ‘alligator’ six times) and the butter is in tiny pieces but still very visible. Measure out 1/4 cup of water from your chilled bowl of ice water, then add the vinegar to the water. Slowly add the water-vinegar mixture to the flour meal, pulsing until the dough starts to come together. You want it to be right on the borderline between crumbly and a clump of dough. You may need to add a tiny bit more water.
Gather the dough and mound it on a clean surface. Now here’s the fun part. Take egg-sized bits and press down with the heel of your hand, “smearing” the butter and flour together. Then shape all the dough into a disk about 1 ½ inches thick, wrap the dough in plastic wrap, refrigerate it for a few hours to two days.
When you are ready to roll, take the dough out to soften for 15-30 minutes (you want it cold but pliable, and not sticky).
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough into a circle with the diameter of about 11 inches. As you roll from the center outward, turn the dough so you ensure it doesn’t stick. Add flour to the surface and your pin as needed. Transfer the dough gently into your pie dish, and press it to shape.
Trim any dough to about an inch larger than the dish edge, then fold the dough under, pinch all along the top, and prick dough with a fork all over, including the sides. Place the pie crust in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Bake the empty pie shell (this is called blindbaking, and helps combat sogginess) for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown, on the lower third of the oven.
Cool the pie shell to room temperature before adding filling.