For a few weeks in the spring, local fresh strawberries are in the markets. They are juicy and sweet. I combined several recipes to make this fresh strawberry pie. It is is packed with strawberries-crushed, sliced and whole on top for decoration. I used yogurt rather than whipped cream in the pie to reduce the fat and calories; the pie is still light and airy.
One of the local crops grown in south Louisiana is strawberries. They ripen in March and April and the supply is plentiful. The rains this year shortened the season and strawberries are very perishable. So we enjoy them for a few short weeks.
Although the local strawberries are gone, there is still a good supply of strawberries from other parts of the country and world. I’m taking advantage of the special run by a new upscale market which is using strawberries at a discounted price to get you to come to their store.
Strawberries are low in calories, high in Vitamin C and rich in flavonoids. A very healthy fruit to include in meals.
I enjoy strawberry pie and looked through some of my old recipe books for ideas. Many of the recipes included raw whipped egg whites or whipped cream in the filling. But I’m not crazy about using raw eggs in recipes and whipped cream is high in calories and fat. So I substituted Greek yogurt and used unflavored gelatin for a thickener; the results came out well.
The pie is actually very simple – the filling doesn’t include many ingredients–strawberries, sugar, gelatin, yogurt and a tiny bit of lemon juice. We usually keep Dannon Activia Greek yogurt in our refrigerator, however, any brand of vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt can be used.
For convenience, I used a purchased frozen pie shell. After several tries, I found that a deep dish 9″ pie shell is needed to prevent the filling from over-running the pie pan. Thaw and then bake the pie shell for about 10 minutes; let it cool completely before adding the filling.
Making the pie filling
This pie uses slightly more than one lb of strawberries. One pound of berries yields about 3 cups. Save back some of the smaller whole berries for garnish and about 1 cup for slicing in the filling. Crushed the rest of he strawberries (about 1 1/2 cups), adding sugar and 1 tsp lemon juice. A potato ricer worked well for crushing the strawberries. If you have extra strawberries–crush two cups of berries.
When I added the yogurt — the flavor was great, but the pie had an odd pink color and I missed the taste of fresh strawberries. So I added sliced strawberries to the filling, too.
Cooking with Unflavored Gelatin
Probably the trickiest part of making this pie is cooking with unflavored gelatin. Unlike instant flavored Jello, unflavored gelatin should be added to cold water and allowed to soften for several minutes. If you pour unflavored gelatin into boiling water, it will clump and never dissolve. What a mess.
Here’s the gelatin softening in cold water.
Then boil and stir the gelatin on the stove for about 3 to 5 minutes until all the small pearls are dissolved.
When dissolved, the gelatin becomes clear. Then cool and chill the gelatin until it becomes syrupy – not hard. To speed things up, I cool the gelatin over ice water–but watch carefully or it will harden.
Somewhere, I thought I remembered that is was possible to whip gelatin with an electric mixer at a high speed to incorporate air and lift. This recipe includes only a small volume of gelatin/water; it actually did whip up.
Also, using a electric mixer made it easier to incorporate the yogurt and crushed strawberries. Here’s the Greek yogurt and crushed strawberries added to the gelatin.
Strawberry Berry Pie
- 1 – 9 inch deep dish pie shell, defrosted
- 1 lb fresh strawberries, divided (plus extra for garnish–if available)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 1 pkg Knox unflavored gelatin
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/2 cup vanilla-flavored Greek yogurt (I used a 5.3 oz container of Dannon Activia Greek Yogurt)
- 1 cup Cool Whip topping, defrosted
Method and Steps
- Heat oven to 350 degrees. Prick the bottom of the defrosted pie shell with a fork about every 3 inches to prevent bubbling. Bake the pie shell for 10 minutes or until browned. Remove from oven and cool thoroughly.
- Set aside about 8 smaller ripe strawberries for garnishing pie. (Or four larger berries may be halved and used for garnish.)
- Slice 1 cup berries, set aside.
- Using potato ricer or similar utensil, crush the remainder of the berries (about 1 1/2 cups). If you have extra berries, increase the crushed berries to 2 cups.
- Add sugar and lemon juice to the crushed berries, mix well and set aside.
- In a small saucepan, sprinkle 1 pkg Knox unflavored gelatin over 1/2 cup cold water. Let set for several minutes until the gelatin is absorbed.
- Turn stove to medium high, heat and boil the gelatin, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and boil for about 3 to 5 minutes until the gelatin is completely dissolved. Stir frequently.
- Pour the dissolved gelatin into small glass container (a measuring cup works well), set over a bowl of ice water. Let cool until the gelatin becomes syrupy. (This takes about 20 minutes).
- Transfer to medium sized bowl of electric mixer. Mix on high speed until the gelatin becomes light and airy.
- Reduce speed to low, add the Greek yogurt and beat to combine.
- Add the crushed strawberries/sugar and blend in. Pour into cooled pie shell.
- Carefully sprinkle the 1 cup of sliced strawberries over the filling. Chill several hours or overnight until firm.
- Decorate with reserved whole (or halved) strawberries; pipe Cool Whip topping around edge of pie.