juicyberry pie: recipe for all juicy berries


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.

IMG_7529This 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:

IMG_7666Tasted great; bled like a stuck pig.  So yeah, trust in me…I fail for you!

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.

IMG_7664Juicyberry Pie

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.


berry busy planting…stay tuned

No time to write.  Too busy fending off a sore throat, dodging raindrops, fixing supports, getting in those last few plants, weeding, etc. before the papers come in and grades are due.  Enjoy this photo of my currant bush.  I do wonder why one bush is full of berries, and the other (about 3-4 feet away) doesn’t have any.  Weren’t they the same cultivar?  They don’t look alike.  Uh oh.

But I won’t complain.

Neither will I complain about this, my pretty, the first crop of the year.  The haskap berries are ripening!  Not sure why I shot the only berry that was damaged, but you get the picture.  Pretty soon I will have enough to make jam, hopefully before I leave.

The ripe berries look like elongated blueberries and taste tart and sweet, like a cross between a cranberry and a raspberry, or maybe a slightly unripe loganberry.

I managed to withhold buying blueberries (yet again) and some rather promising, if not exactly upright as advertised, huckleberries.

My tayberries are also yearning to break free; I actually have berries the size of my pinky tip.  They might be even earlier than the black caps.

Can’t wait for jam season, for summer to be here.  Enough with this rain, already!

haskapberry jam — first berries of the season!

I was so thrilled to pick my first crop of haskapberries yesterday!  Yes, it’s the first berry crop of the season!  Who knew?  And, as I hoped in this post last year when I planted the bushes, the jam is absolutely marvelous.  The berries look like elongated blueberries, but the flavor is much tarter and punchier and more wine-like than blueberries.  They are the blueberries of the street: tough guys. Someone described the taste as a cross between a blueberry, black currant, and a black raspberry.  I think that’s about right.  But they aren’t sweet enough to eat without sugar — or at least mine aren’t.

I have five bushes (one didn’t make it), all of slightly different strains that were part of the OSU trials.  The plants weathered the freeze with ease, and apparently, will do just fine in the heat, as well.  Some of my bushes produce hardly any berries, others produce many small, ovoid ones, and yet others produce the long fatties.  Each one has a slightly different taste.  I’m delighted by all of them.

I didn’t have enough to make any standard jam recipe, my crop coming in just over a cup, so I improvised, knowing we’d eat this one fast and there would be no need to can the single half pint that would result.

Apparently, haskapberries have pectin, so it set up unbelievably quickly.  I may turn out to be eating haskapberry fruit leather; we shall see.  I’ll update you.  (UPDATE: Cooked too long, and the jam is slightly rubbery.  If I had just cooked it a few minutes less, it would have been OK.  I’ve never seen a no-pectin jam set up so quickly!)

Below is an improvised no-pectin recipe one can use for tiny batches of any fruit, as long as you don’t mind 1) the sugar content; 2) not really knowing if you will have loose, syrupy jam, since pectin content varies in fruit; and 3) refrigerating the final product.  I wash and sterilize my jars and lids/rings before using them, as the jam will be susceptible to mold growth after a while.  That is, if you don’t gobble it up right away.

Micro-batch Haskapberry Jam

Makes just over 1/2 pint.

  • 1 cup haskap berries
  • 1 cup sugar
  • juice of 1/2 lemon

Remove leaves and debris from berries; rinse.  Crush berries and add sugar and lemon juice in 3.5 quart (not smaller) saucepan.  Boil ingredients until gelling point (see a preservation cookbook for instructions if you are unsure what this is).  This will happen fast. Pour into sterilized 1/2 pint jar and cool.  Refrigerate and consume within a couple of weeks.