Most states are still months away from fresh fruit coming back into season, but if you're like me, you're pining for the sweet and tart berries of summer right now. Luckily, there's a great way to enjoy the fruits of summer without the wait. The answer, my pie loving friends, is frozen fruit.
This is probably no secret to non-urban dwellers, who have freezers that can accommodate summer's bounty and dispense doses of berry bliss on a much-needed basis, one freezer bag at a time. For those of us lacking the real estate to squirrel away fruit grown at the peak of its season, there is still the option of the grocer's freezer, stocked and ready to fill our pastries year-round.
I love using frozen berries for filling double-crusted pies. The process isn't difficult at all, in fact, it's slightly easier than using fresh (no pesky stems to contend with or washing required).
There's no need to defrost ahead of time. Simply remove the bag from the freezer, break up any chunks of berries that may be stuck together, toss them with a mixture of sugar, cornstarch, and lemon zest, fill, chill, and bake in a preheated oven. The store-bought berries won't have quite the same flavor as what you'd expect from your local farmer, but it's a decent substitute while watching the snow drift against your windowpane.
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About the author: Lauren Weisenthal has logged many hours working in restaurant kitchens and bakeries of Brooklyn and Manhattan. She is a graduate of the Artisan Bread Baking and Pastry Arts programs at the French Culinary Institute. You can follow her on Twitter at @evillagekitchen.