All you need to know about pie thickeners

How do starches work?

 Starches thicken liquids when they bond with water molecules and heated to the proper temperature.

If some starches are over heated they will release the liquid they once held, thus making the filling become runnier.

Common thickeners to use when making pies

Cornstarch

  • Stronger thickening power than flour.
  • Needs high heat (boiling point) to thicken a liquid.
  • Must be hydrated to thicken a filling.
  • Cannot withstand prolonged cooking; once filling mixture has thickened do not overmix or the cornstarch will loose its thickening power.
  • May impart a floury flavor.
  • Opaque filling.
  • Enhances the flavor of the fruit.
  • If the pie is to be eaten the day after baking, decrease the amount of cornstarch by 1 teaspoon.

Tapioca

  • Strong thickening power in relation to other starches.
  • Needs low heat to thicken a liquid.
  • Must be hydrated to thicken a filling.
  • Looses the thickening power after prolonged cooking.
  • Must be hydrated to thicken a filling.
  • Gives a gluey neutral flavor.
  • Clear filling.
  • To eat a pie shortly after baking use Tapioca starch.
  • Use Tapioca starch if you will end up heating the pie more than once.
  • Use tapioca starch when the pie will be frozen. Tapioca starch will not break down when the pie will be thawed.

Arrowroot

  • Strong thickening power in relation to other starches.
  • Needs high heat to thicken a liquid.
  • Must be hydrated to thicken a filling.
  • Can withstand prolonged cooking.
  • Gluey neutral flavor.
  • Clear filling.

TIP:Arrowroot is not broken down by acidic fruits; cranberry, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, limes, orange, pomegranate, pineapple, strawberry, tangerines.

All-Purpose Flour

  • Weaker thickening power in relation to other starches; more flour must be used to achieve the same thickening power as other starches.
  • Needs moderate heat to thicken a liquid.
  • Must be hydrated to thicken a filling.
  • Can withstand prolonged cooking.
  • Gummy flour flavor.
  • Opaque filling.

Potato Starch

  • Very strong thickening power in relation to other starches.
  • Needs moderate heat to thicken a liquid a filling.
  • Cannot withstand prolonged cooking.
  • Gluey mild flavor.
  • Opaque filling.
  • Potato starch does not break down; filling will not become watery once baked

Miscellaneous info

Tips & tricks

  • Must mix the thickener with the sugar and the spices before mixing it with the fruit to prevent it from clumping up.
  • If you use more sugar than specified by the recipe, more thickener will be needed because sugar will release its moisture once heated, adding more liquid to the filling.
  • For lattice design pies use less thickener due to liquid evaporation during cooking.
  • To use less starch, mix the fruit with the sugar and let rest for about 1 hour in a colander over a large bowl. Reduce the fruit liquid/sugar mixture by simmering it at low heat, and place the thickened mixture back into the fruit filling.
  • Rule of thumb: Use 10g of starch per 115g of fruit.
  • Choose arrowroot, if you will be thickening an acidic fruit filling.
  • Rule of thumb: use about 2 tbsp of starch per 8-inch pie; use more starch for juicier fruits.
  • You can use pectin as a thickener but you must use precise acid and sugar amounts, as specified by manufacturer.
  • To tenderize your pie dough, add one teaspoon of lemon juice or vinegar per cup of flour in your pie dough recipe.
  • How much thickener do you need? It depends on the fruit. Fruits the have lots of pectin require less thickener.

Fruits info

High Pectin Fruits; apples, citrus fruits, apples, cranberries, currants, Plums, grapes, quinces.

Low Pectin Fruits; apricots, blueberries, cherries, peaches, pears, pineapple, raspberries, strawberries.

Acidic fruits; cranberry, grapefruit, kiwi, lemon, limes, orange, pomegranate, pineapple, strawberry, tangerines.

Semi-acidic fruits; Apple, blackberry, cherry, grapes, lychee, mango, nectarine, peach, pear,plums,raspberries.

Sweet fruits; Banana, date, fig, grape, papaya.

 

 

 

 

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