Fruit pies will keep for about three months in the freezer and still be as fresh, or almost, as when first baked. A well stocked freezer with several fruit pies ready for thawing out and serving will come in handy during busy holidays. Too, freezing uses up the excess amount of apples from the backyard fruit that otherwise would go to waste. Well organized cooks use these to save money, save time and to save money. But the best reason for freezing fruit pies is to be prepared for barren winter months ahead.
But the best way is to prepare the fruit pie and then freeze before baking. This makes for a fresher taking pie and more like actually baking the pie from from fruit fresh from the tree or vine. They can be prepared and frozen unbaked, or baked and then frozen. Freezing may slightly lower the taste of the pie, and baked frozen pies may lose their bubbly look if not reheated, and if reheated, may be less juicy. That is a slight problem and one not detected by anyone other than the cook, but cooks like to present to their guests, their best efforts, at least where pies are concerned. For compensation, a scoop of ice cream on a reheated apple, peach, or berry pie, will overcome whatever freezer flaws it has.
Pillsbury’s pastry cooks recommend the following: Pies are to be frozen only when absolutely cool, lukewarm even won’t do. For unbaked pies, “Brush the bottom crust with egg white before filling to prevent it from becoming soggy. Do not slit the top pastry. Cover pies with an inverted foil or paper plate and then wrap.” These, they say, will keep up to four months. Of course they will last longer, but after this, the flavor begins to deteriorate.
Baked pies are less hardy. Their time limit before they begin to deteriorate – taste wise – is three months. Instead of leaving them on the counter to defrost, reheat at 325 degrees F. for 45 minutes or until warm and ready to serve. For unbaked pies, cut slits in the center to allow steam to escape, and bake at 425 degrees F. for 30 to 45 minutes until the juices ooze and bubble up from the center.
Do not freeze cream pies or those with meringues, or chiffon pies, puddings and custard. Pies that are open-faced freeze well if they are well protected from damage. Covering the whole pie with a paper plate large enough to leave a space between the pie filling and the covering, and then wrapping or placing in freezer bags will work well. For reheating, fifteen minutes at 325 will unthaw and leave them warm and ready to serve.
Another excellent way of utilizing fruits for pies is to prepare the filling in advance and freeze separately. Or, if one is not sure how the excess berries or fruits will be used, whether in pies, puddings, some other dessert combinations, then freeze the fruits separately. At pie baking time, unthaw and prepare the pie filling.
This will not take up too much time if crusts are likewise frozen – or store bought and kept in the freezer ready to be used. To freeze crusts, place them in a pie pan, cover as if it were a pie, and freeze. As Pillsbury’s cooks suggested, brushing on egg whites, before freezing, or before cooking, will lessen their chance of being soggy.
For the top crusts, freeze separately on large round of cardboard that have been covered with wax paper or cling and then wrapped. The cling will be useful, after the dough has thawed to lift the crust and place on the pie filling.