There are many ways to make a blueberry pie

Posted Aug. 22, 2008, at 8:58 p.m.
Last modified Jan. 29, 2011, at 12:52 p.m.

A couple weeks ago, we asked for an open-faced blueberry pie recipe. The goal of this pie is to lighten it up a little by leaving off the top crust and to have a more intense blueberry-flavored filling. Lots of you sent recipes, and it seems to me that there are two basic kinds of these pies, and a third sort involving cream cheese or sour cream, which I guess makes up for calories lost for no top crust.

All of the pies need a prebaked pie shell, a quart of blueberries, 2½ to 3 tablespoons of cornstarch and usually 1 cup of sugar. All require some of the berries to be kept raw and the rest to be cooked with water, sugar and cornstarch to make a mixture added to the raw berries in the crust. Cinnamon, nutmeg and lemon juice all cropped up as optional seasonings, and some had a bit of butter mixed in. As you will see, one pie’s recipe called for a sharply different process suggesting that actually there is a lot of tinkerability here, something I love in a recipe.

I heard from Anne Black in Harborside, Jean Anderson of Islesboro, Dorothy Simmons, Judy Herrick of Sedgwick, Gene Stinson of Lincolnville, Ruth Thurston of Machias, Rena Day of Deer Isle, Iris Brown, Corinne Ness of West Levant, JoDelle Rolerson of Belfast, Sharon Goguen of Belfast who got her recipe from Margaret Webb, Sherry Ryan, Bancroft, and Lenny Sweet. Probably other recipes will come in, because new ones arrive every day, it seems. Many thanks to all.

The standard recipe calls for 1 cup of berries to be cooked with water, sugar and cornstarch until thickened, and is then added to the uncooked berries either in the pie shells or stirred into the mixture in the saucepan before putting it in the pie shell. The uncooked berries are really nice because they pop in your mouth when you eat them, and you get a lovely fresh-blueberry flavor.

Judy Herrick said, “This pie was my late husband’s favorite. He was a blueberry grower but didn’t like the traditional [pie].” Dorothy Simmons suggested that instead of water, you use blueberry juice if you have some. JoDelle Rolerson got her recipe from her great-aunt Lytle Wood who headed the Waldo County Extension program that published this recipe in 1974. She uses a tablespoon of tapioca as well as cornstarch and says the recipe never fails. Sherry Ryan whirls 1 cup of berries with water in a blender and then cooks it with the sugar and cornstarch. Gene Stinson uses 2 cups of blueberries in the cooked mixture and 2 cups of raw in the shell. Ruth Thurston’s favorite calls for 6 cups, 2 cooked and 4 raw, and nutmeg for spice.

Corinne Ness said her recipe was one her mother found in Good Housekeeping magazine in the 1980s. This recipe was different from the others in that it called for only one-quarter cup of sugar, and her procedure was to mash the 1 cup of berries in a saucepan with the cornstarch and sugar with no added water, and to cook it until it was thick.

Then there are the ones with cream cheese or sour cream mixtures added. Sharon Goguen sweetens cream cheese with powdered sugar, adds a touch of lemon juice and spreads it over the bottom crust, then tops it with the raw and cooked blueberries. Sherry Ryan’s recipe calls for an egg, sour cream and sugar custard poured over 2 cups of blueberries in a graham cracker crust. Yum.

I tried the two basic all-blueberry types, and people who sampled them divided into the sweet-tooth camp and the ones who like stuff less sweet. So you know who you are: If you like it sweet then add more sugar.

So it sounds to me like you can use anywhere from 1 to 2 cups of berries cooked and the rest raw. It sounds like you can sweeten them with a very little sugar or a lot more. Sample the berries ahead; if they are sweet, take it easy on the sugar.

You can use cinnamon or lemon zest, add butter or not, pour the cooked mixture over fresh berries in the shell or combine the cooked mixture and fresh berries in the saucepan. Raw cornstarch is unpleasant so the only caution I would have is to be sure to cook the cornstarch and berries until the mixture is glossy and shows no cloudiness.

Otherwise feel free to fiddle with the recipe to come up with what your family likes best. Live it up and put sweetened cream cheese on the bottom crust. Wheeee.

Looking for Cherry Winks

Gladys Paine of Hermon wrote saying she thinks this was a Pillsbury Bake-off Recipe that called for crushed pineapple and crushed cornflakes topped with maraschino cherry. She used to make it for her children and would like to have the recipe again.

Open-Faced Blueberry Pie

Yields one 9-inch pie.

Prebaked 9-inch pie shell

4 cups blueberries, divided into 1 cup and 3 cups

¼ to 1 cup sugar

2½ to 3 tablespoons cornstarch

Up to 1 cup water

1 tablespoon butter

½ teaspoon cinnamon

Lemon zest (optional)

In a heavy saucepan, cook 1 or more cups of blueberries with the sugar, cornstarch and water until mixture is thickened and glossy. Time will vary up to 10 minutes. Stir in butter, cinnamon and lemon zest. Put the rest of the berries in the pie shell, and pour cooked mixture over the top carefully enough to keep the raw berries evenly distributed. Chill and serve topped with whipped cream.

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