Summer is berry season. My children and I enjoy going to local farms and harvesting berries. My little girl Amber experiences seasons through food. At the end of spring, she asks me when we are going to pick berries. I know it's the end of summer when she asks me to go apple picking.
There are many great local farms to visit in New England. Parlee Farm is our go-to when it comes to berry picking. My tip for visiting this farm is to get there as early as possible to harvest the fruit. This farm is very popular and is often crowded in the afternoon. To reward yourself for the hard work you've done in the morning, grab some treats from Mary's Country Kitchen and Bakery—Parlee Farm's on-site bakery. There is also a barn where children can feed cute farm animals, such as bunnies and sheep.
Verrill Farm in Concord is also a lovely place for the strawberry picking. Every year they host a strawberry festival at the kick-off of strawberry picking season. If you plan to pick strawberries at Verrill Farm, you will have to call their strawberry picking hotline for updates first (978-254-0439).
Last fall, I shared the secrets of making flaky pie dough on my blog post "How to Make a Luscious Apple Pie" and answered several questions about pie dough, such as what kind of butter and flour to use for a delightfully flaky crust. If you want to learn more about pie dough, this blog post will be very helpful!
Today I want to talk about the fillings for strawberry pie. There are two ways to make the berry filling for a pie. One way is to cook the berries with sugar and cornstarch. The other way is to mix the berries with sugar and cornstarch and let it sit for half of an hour. I have tried both and am definitely in favor of the later. The second method saves time, and the berries do not get mushy.
One key ingredient for my strawberry pie is balsamic vinegar. You may associate balsamic vinegar with a savory dish like a Caprese salad—but there is no boundary between sweet and savory. For example, cranberries are great for pie, and they are also awesome as a side dish with turkey. Olive oil is excellent for savory cooking and absolutely delicious in olive oil cake, banana bread, and ice cream. Miso is perfect for a hearty soup or as a marinade for fish, and you will be surprised by how much flavor it brings to ice cream. (If you want to learn how to make miso ice cream with seasonal peaches, read my blog post "Peach Miso Ice Cream: An Unexpected New England Treat").
I can go on and on—but I think you get my point. Creating a dish is all about balance. Balsamic vinegar is a perfect counterpoint to the richness of buttery pie dough and the sweetness of the strawberries.
When I make this pie with children, I usually make several mini pies instead of one big pie and let each child use a cookie cutter to design his or her own pie. It is very important to have children participate in cooking and let them connect to food when they are little. According to Amber, my little daughter, and number one fan, this is the yummiest pie ever!
Balsamic Strawberry Pie
Perfect Pie Dough
- 1 1/4 cups 6 1/4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1 stick 4 ounces cold, unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 3 to 4 tablespoons ice water
Balsamic Strawberry Filling
- 4 cups 1 quart strawberries, fresh, hulled and halved (or frozen, halved)
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/3 cup cornstarch
- Egg wash 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt
- Sanding sugar or granulated sugar as needed (optional)
To make the perfect pie dough
- Place flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a food processor or large mixing bowl.
- By pulsing or using a pastry blender, cut the butter into the flour until the butter is the size of small peas.
- Sprinkle ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time, over the flour mixture. Pulse or stir mixture until large clumps form.
- When enough water has been added to allow the dough to hold together, transfer it to a lightly floured work surface. Gather the dough together to form a ball.
- Flatten the dough into a disk about 6 inches wide, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 minutes before using.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and set the rack in the lowest position.
To make the Balsamic Strawberry Filling
- In a medium bowl, combine the strawberries, granulated sugar, and vinegar. Toss to combine. Allow the strawberries to rest for about 30 minutes until they have released their juice.
To assemble the pie
- Roll out the top crust to 1/8 inches thick.
- Transfer the mixture to the prepared bottom crust.
- Using a pastry wheel or a sharp knife, cut twelve 1-inch-wide strips of dough.
- Brush the edge of the bottom crust with egg wash.
- Gently weave and arrange the dough strips on top of the filling to create a lattice top.
- Trim the edges flush with the edge of the bottom crust and press them to seal.
- Turn and decoratively crimp the edges. (Alternately, use a pie top cutter to create a decorative crust.)
- Brush the top crust with egg wash and sprinkle with sanding sugar or granulated sugar if desired.
- Place the pie on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes until the filling is bubbly and thick.
- Remove the pie from the oven and place it on a cooling rack. Let cool for 2 to 3 hours.
- The filling will continue to thicken and set as the pie cools.
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Melissa is 100% MIT (Made in Taiwan), where she worked as a food writer. She’s also worked alongside renowned chefs like Ming Tsai and Joanne Chang, honing her craft and gathering stories along the way. Part story-teller, part educator, and part food lover, Melissa brings a special blend of experience, skill, and enthusiasm to her work. She blends her Asian background, her new home of New England, and love of food and culture to bring joy, optimism, and inspiration to food lovers and fun-seekers everywhere.
What sparked your passion for the industry?
The desire to make things by hand. The joy of sharing delicious, hearty food with students. The opportunity for people to get connected via cooking and baking. When a child smiled broadly and told me it’s the best scone he has ever made and eaten, it really made my day!
In your opinion, what’s the most important course?
Well, I usually take a peek at the wine list first. I like tapas style, so the course doesn’t really matter. Cheese and charcuterie are always a good place to start. And since I’m a pastry chef, there is always room for dessert!
Bill Gates is picking up your tab, where would you go?