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Happy 4th!

rawblueberrypie-2pounder-med

The raw blueberry pie right before we cut into it.

If you have to do a pie in the middle of summer, say, if you’re bringing something to a Fourth of July outing, this might be the kind you want. It only takes a few minutes to put together (other than picking over the blueberries to make sure you’re not leaving any stems in). And Trader Joe’s is selling two-pound containers of blueberries for a moderate price, about $6, at least in southern California. That’s enough for a pretty big pie. So I got two boxes for my daughter’s birthday party last week and discovered that just one box was about a third more than my old newspaper recipe called for. Well…we can always use a few blueberries around the house! And the pie ingredients are so simple it’s not hard to scale up a bit and still have it work out nicely. Very nicely, in fact.

The syrup you start the filling with can be boiled up in a minute or so in the microwave, so you don’t have to heat up your house or stand over a stove. Then you just stir in the starch slurry and some lime juice to thicken it, and start folding in the raw berries. When they’re all in, you pour it into the crust and let it cool until set.

And I’m not sure you actually have to run an oven for a graham cracker crust, although I did for about 10 minutes–I think it makes the sugars melt a bit with the butter, so the resulting caramel, if you can call it that, binds the crumbs together and then hardens slightly when it cools and the crust stays crisp a little longer. But maybe that’s just fantasy. If you want to keep the oven off, you’ve got my vote. If you want to buy a frozen graham cracker crust-lined pie tin (or two; with this amount of filling you could probably do 2 standard smaller pies), that’s your call too.

I don’t usually buy graham crackers at all, but for this I think it’s worth doing the crust at home–it takes maybe 2-3 minutes to grind up enough for a crust and press it into a pan, and it’s a little more versatile than the commercial versions. I can put in a bit less sugar and butter than the standard crust recipes do, skip the salt, throw in a little almond meal if I feel like it, and add a couple of pinches of cinnamon and ginger to spice things up. Leftover crackers are handy for making impromptu ice cream sandwiches, if you can keep your kids away from them until you’re ready to do that.

Here’s my scaled-up version for a two-pound box (909 g. approximately) of fresh blueberries. That’s about 300 grams more blueberries than the old 4-cup recipe I copied from my mother-in-law, so it needs somewhat more in the way of crust and sugar, but not actually that much more–go by taste and be conservative. This version is sweet but fresh, which is the joy of keeping most of the blueberries raw. It won’t make you feel like you’ve just eaten half a jar of jam.

Raw Blueberry Pie (2-pounder scaled-up version)

Carb counts: Total for pie=521 g. For 12 pretty decent deep-dish slices, 43 grams of total carb each. 10 big slices, maybe slightly too big, 52 g carb each. 16 thinner slices, 33 g carb each.

Crust:

  • 15 graham crackers ~2×3″ (TJs are a little smaller than Kroger’s)
  • ~1/3 c. almond meal, optional but nice (add another 1-2 crackers or a couple of tablespoons of rolled oats instead if you can’t have nuts, and just figure it’ll add another couple of grams of  carb per slice)
  • 3-4 T butter
  • 50 g sugar (1/4 c)
  • 1/8 t ginger, 1/4 t cinnamon or to taste

Grind crust ingredients together in food processor and pat into deep-dish pie pan or casserole big enough to hold all the blueberries. Bake 10 min at 350 F (optional, slightly crisper result) and cool on the counter or else just chill the pan in the fridge without baking.

Filling:

  • 2 lb. fresh blueberries
  • 175 g (7/8 c.) granulated sugar
  • 1 c water plus a little extra on hand as needed
  • ~40 g potato or cornstarch (4 T or just a bit less), dissolved to a thick but pourable slurry in a cup with a few tablespoons of water
  • juice of two limes

Wash and pick over the blueberries in a colander–make sure all the stems are off. In a microwaveable bowl large enough to hold all the blueberries (eg, microwave-safe ceramic or old pyrex, not new pyrex or plastic), mix the sugar and 1 c. water together, add about a cupful of the blueberries, put a saucer or lid over the bowl and microwave 2 minutes on HIGH. Stir and microwave another minute or a bit more as needed if the sugar isn’t fully dissolved yet and/or the berries have not cooked in and made the syrup dark purplish blue. Get the starch slurry mixed and the limes squeezed while it’s cooking, and have a little water on hand too.

As soon as the syrup is cooked and while it’s still very hot, quickly whisk in the lime juice and then the cornstarch or potato starch slurry as evenly as possible–it should thicken very quickly, so stir constantly. If it’s suddenly looking very rubbery or lumpy and hard to stir, quickly drizzle in a little bit of water–a couple of spoonfuls–and stir vigorously to thin it just enough to smooth it out a little. You don’t want it runny or it might not set up when it cools, but you don’t want it too solid while hot either or it’ll toughen. The best is a very thick but just-stirrable pudding-like thickness while hot, so you can get all the blueberries mixed in evenly, and then you want it to set the rest of the way once it cools so you can slice it. Anyway, once the cornstarch and lime juice are in, quickly stir in all the rest of the blueberries. Taste–if it’s not sweet enough for you, you can add a bit more sugar while it’s still hot, but I found 175 g. just about right and my sweet-toothed daughter agreed.

Before the filling sets completely, pour it into the graham cracker crust, smooth it over and let it cool all the way, then cover with plastic wrap and set in the fridge to chill. Slice with a thin, sharp knife and use a pie server if you’ve got one to lift out the slices–I finally bought one after all these years and it helped a lot.

Happy 4th of July!

 

5 Responses

  1. Happy 4th of July!

  2. Yeah, I’d probably cheat with the crust too. Can I use lemon juice instead of lime? Limes cost, but I have my own lemon tree which has been ridiculously prolific this year even with the drought.

    • Hi Lurkertype,
      Of course lemons are fine too–maybe with a bit of grated rind as well if you like it. And how jealous am I? Very–I’m a serious purple thumb in the back yard. I just like limes for their aromatic twist, which even just as juice seems to undercut or freshen anything potentially cloying like ginger ale, blueberries, ersatz underpowered black raspberry ice cream (see old ice cream rant about my daughter choosing based on fashionable lavender color rather than flavor…) Limes are also cheap out here right about now, ~10 for a dollar at least at the corner groceries and Latino markets, so I’ve bought a bunch and am trying to make myself use some now and freeze some for later so I don’t wake up in 3 months and discover useless dried brown husks rattling around in a green net bag at the bottom of the fridge.

      • I can’t take credit for the lemon tree — my green thumb ex-housemate planted it and it survived having the fence fall on it the first year. It gets pruned when we look out and say “huh, kinda too big”, and MAYBE it gets watered and fertilized once in a while. Goes to show that a good local nursery is worth the price.

        The husband is eh on limes, so we don’t do much with them; I’m sure they’d become husks pretty soon.

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