Cooks Exchange

Make your own pie filling for a truly homemade treat

Great pie crusts are easier to make than you might think and so is pie filling.
Great pie crusts are easier to make than you might think and so is pie filling. TNS

Sticker shock at the supermarket sent me scurrying into the kitchen to stir up my own pie filling.

I was making a meal for an ill friend and was planning to do a blueberry salad that she enjoys. It can serve as a salad or a dessert.

One ingredient is blueberry pie filling.

As I was whittling down my shopping list, I came to the aisle with pie fillings. When I saw the price, I quickly put the can back on the shelf. Pie filling $4.99? Seriously?

I can make my own better. All it will take me is about 10 to 15 minutes longer.

My daughter is used to these incidents in stores. She chalks it off to Mom’s soap boxes. I do not like to be nor do I like folks to be taken advantage of.

Canned pie filling has more filling than fruit, so $4.99 was just too much.

I have quarts of fresh blueberries in the freezer, thanks to chef Calvin Coleman of Gulfport, so there was no reason not to make my own. It only takes about 15 to 20 minutes from start to finish.

Homemade pie filling allows the home cook to control the amount of sugar and to add ingredients that enhance the fruit’s flavor. For blueberry filling, that extra flavor can come from fresh lemons or cinnamon. If I use cinnamon, I usually add a few gratings of fresh nutmeg. The two just go together.

Almost any favorite fruit can make a good filling: strawberry, peach, raspberries, blackberries, pineapple and, of course, apple. Imagination is the only limitation.

Readers, you may be thinking, this is all well and good, but where do we start?

A 3-quart heavy saucepan works best. Simply put the cut-up fruit or berries in the pan and add sugar or sugar substitute, cornstarch dissolved in water, spices or lemon, butter and vanilla and bring to a boil. These are ingredients that most have in hand, and it is almost as easy as boiling water.

One batch of the Blueberry Pie Filling makes enough for the blueberry salad or a blueberry pie. I have made both this week.

Blueberry Congealed Salad is the salad recipe that was a favorite of my late mother-in-law.

For those who need to restrict sugar or fat content, a sugar substitute and lower fat cream cheese and sour cream may be used in the topping. A sugar-free gelatin works well with the blueberries. Reader Brenda Roberts, who has asked for low-sugar banana and pound cakes, might enjoy this made the lower sugar, lower fat way.

The Apple Pie Filling recipe, partly from “Ball Blue Book” with the addition of brown sugar from me, makes 6 pints of filling, which can be frozen in plastic freezer boxes. A pint of filling makes a pie. Apple pie filling, unlike berry or peach fillings, takes longer to make because the apples have to be washed, peeled, cored and sliced. Apples also have to be treated with lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

Banana Pudding Cake is a golden-oldie recipe. I thought with all the banana pudding recipes readers have shared, this would be a good dessert variation.

Still looking

Readers, check your files for banana and pound cake recipes using Splenda. Brenda Roberts needs your help.

Andrea Yeager, can be reached at ayeager51@cableone.net and takes requests at Cook’s Exchange, P.O. Box 4567, Biloxi, MS 39535-4567.

BLUEBERRY PIE FILLING

 4 pints blueberries

1/2 cup sugar or sugar substitute

1-1/2 tablespoons corn starch

1/4 cup water

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

2 tablespoons cold butter, cut into pieces

1 teaspoon vanilla

Place 3 pints of blueberries in 3-quart saucepan. Add sugar. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. Don’t want any scorching. With the heat the blueberries begin oozing with juice.

In a small bowl or cup, place corn starch and mix in water slowly. This should form a liquid paste. Add to blueberries on stove, and stir in well. Add in cinnamon and nutmeg. Mixture should boil about 10 to 15 minutes until thickened. (Mine usually is ready in about 10 minutes.)

Remove from stove and stir in butter and vanilla. Fold in remaining pint of berries, trying not to break the berries too much.

There you have pie filling suited to your taste and loaded with fruit.

The above filling recipe can be used for strawberries, sliced peaches, pineapple, raspberries, etc. For a tarter filling, add 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice and 1 tablespoon grated lemon peel. Peaches, like apples, need to be treated with lemon juice to prevent darkening.

BLUEBERRY CONGEALED SALAD

Yvonne Yeager

 2 packages raspberry gelatin (can use sugar-free)

2 cups hot water

1 batch of blueberry pie filling or 1 can store-bought pie filling

1 20-ounce can crushed pineapple in its own juice; drain juice and save for another use

In large, non-metallic bowl, pour gelatin and stir in hot water. Mix until gelatin is dissolved. Stir in pie filling and pineapple. Pour into a 9-by-13-inch dish. Cover and place in refrigerator until set.

Topping:

1 (8-ounce package) softened cream cheese (can use reduced fat)

1 cup sour cream (can use light sour cream)

1/2 cup granulated sugar (can use sugar substitute)

1 tablespoon vanilla

Mix cream cheese, sour cream and sugar until well-blended. Topping needs to be smooth, so I always use a hand mixer. Add vanilla and stir.

Spread topping on congealed blueberry salad. Cover and refrigerate until serving.

APPLE PIE FILLING

 6 pounds apples

1-1/2 cups granulated sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup flour

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Wash, peel, core and slice apples. Treat to prevent darkening. Combine sugars, flour and spices. Rinse and drain apples; stir into sugar mixture. Let stand until juices begin to flow, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon juice.

Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Ladle pie filling into plastic freezer boxes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool at room temperature, not more than 2 hours. Seal, label and freeze or use 1 pint immediately.

PEACH PIE FILLING

From “Ball Blue Book”

 6 pounds peaches

2-1/4 cups sugar

1/2 cup flour

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

2 teaspoons grated lemon peel

1/4 cup lemon juice

Peel, pit and slice peaches. Treat to prevent darkening. Combine sugar, flour and spices. Rinse and drain peaches; stir into sugar mixture. Let stand until juices begin to flow, about 30 minutes. Stir in lemon peel and lemon juice. Cook over medium heat until mixture begins to thicken. Ladle pie filling into plastic freeze boxes, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Cool at room temperature, not more than 2 hours. Seal, label and freeze or use 1 pint immediately. Yield: 4 pints.

BANANA PUDDING CAKE

 1 or 2 ripe bananas

1 package yellow cake mix

4 eggs

1 (4-serving size) package instant banana pudding

1 cup water

1/4 cup oil

1/2 cup nuts

Confectioners’ sugar

Slice bananas, then mash. Add other ingredients, blend and beat at a medium speed with mixer. Pour into greased Bundt pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes. Let cool. Invert cake onto plate. Sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.

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