It’s true that fruit pie has generally been considered a dessert as long as there has been pie. It’s true that pie has sugar and butter, but the main ingredient is fruit.
Fruit is highly nutritious, high in antioxidants, bioflavinoids, micronutrients and fiber. The best nutrient sources for longevity are fruits and berries. James Duke Ph.D. suggests we should eat as many berries as we can in his book, “anti-aging Prescriptions.”
Natural fruit sugar is not the same as processed sugar. It only counts as sugar in those barely useful nutritional labels which are on almost every commercially prepared food package. (I am not saying this includes those with concerns about diabetes.)
As for butter, it is a natural fat, especially if you use organic from grass fed cows. It is easier for your body to use than margarine or shortning. Eating fresh fruit also helps us eliminate excess cholesterol. Of course, common sense keeps us from over indulging. A wedge of pie can be a lovely breakfast, certainly better than a commercial, fruit-filled granola bar.
Spices like cinnamon and ginger, have multiple medicinal uses and properties.
Crust Recipe for a Two-Crust or Rustic-style Pie:
2 1/2 Cups flour- any combination of all-purpose, whole wheat, spelt and/or brown rice flours
1 Cup cold butter
1 teaspoon sea salt or Kosher salt (avoid ordinary salt with free-flowing agents like silicon dioxide)
about 12 Tablespoons ice water
Combine flours and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter, if you have one, or two butter knives, until your mixture looks like peas and cornmeal. Add the water one tablespoon at a time, mixing lightly with a fork, until the dough will stick together when pressed with clean hands. Don’t break up the butter too much as the little lumps make the pastry flaky. (Too much water makes the crust hard, not enough and the crust will be crumbly.) Pat the dough into a ball, divde into two pieces if you are making a two crust pie, wrap in parchment and place in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
Black Grape and Blueberry Pie-
4 Cups washed and halved seedless black grapes
1 lb. blueberries, rinsed and dried
3/4 to 1 cup brown sugar, depending on how sweet the fruit is
1/4 cup quick tapioca
1/4 cup tapioca flour or cornstarch
1 Tablespoon nice cinnamon- Saigon is good
Mix all ingredients together in a bowl and let sit for at least five minutes so the juice starts to flow and the tapioca starts to soften.
Roll out pie dough on a lightly floured piece of parchment paper. Keep turning the paper 1/4 turn every few rolls, add more flour as needed. If you are making a rustic crust, used all of the dough and roll the crust to hang over the sides of the pie plate by at least 4 inches. Carefully roll onto the rolling pin and then center the crust over the pie plate. Add the filling. Guide with a rubber spatula as you fill. Cut a one tablespoon pat of butter into a few pieces and drop evenly on top of the fruit. Carefully bring up the edges of the crust, folding as needed. Or, roll out your top crust, top the pie, crimp the edges and make steam slits in the top. Brush the crust with a little milk to make is brown nicely. I like silicon brushes because they don’t leave little brush hairs.
It is wise to put the pie on a foil lined baking sheet, as fruit pies tend to bubble over. Bake at 375F for about an hour, until the crust is golden and the filling is bubbly. Cool before cutting.
Other fruits- Use the same methods as for the Grape and Blueberry Pie
Peach- 6 Cups peeled, pitted and sliced peaches, up to one cup of sugar, 1/4 cup quick tapioca, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, juice of a small lemon, 1 Tablespoon butter, cut up.
Apple- tart apples are best, such as Pippin, Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Cameo, etc. Mixing apple varieties adds great depth of flavor. Peel, seed and slice 6 or 7 large apples, about 6 cups. Add 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1 Tablespoon butter, cut up.
Strawberry-Rhubarb- 1lb.cleaned and sliced strawberries, 3 or 4 large stalks rhubarb, cut into small cubes, 1/3 cup quick tapioca, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon orange zest- optional, 1 tablespoon butter, cut up.
Blackberry- 2 pounds blackberries, rinsed and drained. Pick out any leaves or bits. 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 cup quick tapioca, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 tablespoon butter, cut up.
Blueberry- Use 2 pounds of blueberries, omit the grapes and follow the recipe for grape and blueberry pie.
Pear- My favorite in winter. 7 or 8 large ripe pears, about six cups, cleaned, seeded and sliced, no need
to peel, just nick off any bad spots. 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder, 1/2 cup tapioca flour, 1 tablespoon butter, cut up.
If you don’t have tapioca flour, you can use cornstarch or regular flour. There is a flavor difference. Don’t forget the last little bits of butter before you seal up the pie.
I gather my nutritional information at The World’s Healthiest Foods (www.whfoods.com). Also from Prevention Magazine, Anit-Aging Prescriptions by Dr. James Duke, and various health websites.
Enjoy your pie!