Published May 1, 1998.
To preserve the pristine taste of fresh strawberries, thicken with a combination of cornstarch and pectin that's designed for low-sugar recipes.
Commercially made pies feature phony flavor and color and less-than-fresh berries, but they also have a smooth texture that's hard to replicate in homemade pies, which have the advantage of fresh, top-notch berries but often the disadvantage of a stiff and cloudy glaze that eventually turns watery. Could one pie combine the best of both?
We wanted a pie with fresh, juicy berries held together by a soft, sweet glaze. We also wanted a pie that would be easy to prepare, makes use of ingredients available at the local market, and emphasizes the rich flavor and color of fresh strawberries.
In one of our early experiments, we had tried combining cornstarch with a brand of pectin called Sure Jell for Lower Sugar Recipes; it's designed to thicken with much less sugar than what is required by "normal," or unadulterated, pectin. We had rejected this pie because its gel had been overly firm. But we also remembered that it had been less watery than the others when we took it out of the refrigerator. After some additional tests, in which we reduced the amount of this designer pectin, we had a glaze that allowed the beautiful red color of the strawberries to shine through and that could withstand chilling in the refrigerator without becoming watery. We had our perfect strawberry pie--commercially modified starches notwithstanding.list of recipes