How to Thicken Apple Pie

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Apple pie filling should be thick and gooey, not runny.
Apple pie filling should be thick and gooey, not runny. (Image: apple pie slice image by Xavier MARCHANT from Fotolia.com)

There's nothing more American than apple pie. Well, there's hardly anything as comforting either. Made with fresh apples, cinnamon, nutmeg and a flaky crust, apple pie can be the perfect end to any occasion. But an apple pie with a runny filling is a disappointment for everyone, so make sure that your pie filling is thick and rich.

Things You'll Need

  • Apple pie recipe
  • Granny Smith apples
  • Corn starch or tapioca
  • Wire whisk
  • Strainer

Choose the correct apples. Regardless of the recipe you'll be using, when selecting your apples, choose a variety that is recommended for baking. Generally, these won't be the same apples you pick for snacking. Granny Smith apples are perfect for pie -- not just because they are tart, but because they tend to be drier than other varieties. A juicy apple might be delicious to eat, but can make for a runny pie. Choose a crisp, firm and tart apple to keep your filling thick.

Use apple skins in your filling. Not only do the skins add color and flavor, but they contain pectin, a natural thickening agent used in jams, jellies and candies. Skins also add a good nutritional boost to your pie, not to mention you'll save time peeling.

Watch your liquid ingredients. Since apples release juice when mixed with sugar and when warmed up, your filling already contains a good amount of liquid. Be careful of recipes that add juice or water, unless they also add a good amount of thickeners.

Drain the apple juice from the filling. Since apples release juice when combined with sugar, let your sliced apples sit for at least 30 minutes once they have been mixed with the sugar/cinnamon mixture. After 30 minutes, drain the juice from the bowl with a strainer, then continue with your recipe. The apples will produce more juice while they bake.

Use a proper thickening agent. Regardless of your recipe, you can generally mix or match thickening agents. Flour will work fine; however, cornstarch or tapioca are better for fruit pies, so you may want to adjust your recipe. A good rule of thumb is 1/4 to 1/2 cup of flour, or 2 to 3 tbsp. of cornstarch or tapioca for your filling.

Once you've removed the pie from the oven, let it cool for at least an hour. You may be tempted to eat your pie warm, but the filling will be runny when it's hot. Let your pie cool for an hour and your filling will thicken, making it easier and prettier to serve.

Tips & Warnings

  • A streusel topping -- as opposed to a double-crusted pie -- will add some bulk, and may make your filling thicker. Plus, it adds a delicious crunch if made with oats, brown sugar and nuts.
  • Do not overdo your thickening agent. Pie filling with too much starch tends to turn out gummy. If you've drained your apples and used the correct amount of thickener, your filling should be just right.

References

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