With the holidays just around the corner and fresh fruit nearing the end of its peak ripe season, it's quickly becoming prime pie-time. It seems like every fruit pie follows its own rules regarding pre-baked crusts, canned vs. fresh, or blanched vs. non-blanched. The best way to make an apple pie varies slightly from the optimal method for delicate berry and berry-blend pies, but those small nuances make a world of difference in flavor, consistency, and storability.

If you're looking to keep your peaches straight from your plums, we've got you covered. Follow this simple guide to any and all fruit pies to make gorgeous, scrumptious fruit pies that people will be requesting for the next holiday get-together, and the next, and the next...

First, some universal rules of thumb.

  • A good crust is the foundation of any good fruit pie. Some pie purists might die by the from-scratch method, but an easy-to-make crumb crust or pre-made crust can be just as delicious (and no one would be the wiser, anyway).

    • If you're making from scratch, you're going to need fat. Typical candidates are butter, shortening, and lard. We recommend using only butter for an irresistibly golden, flaky, and crispy crust.

    • Keep your ingredients cold. Use ice water as opposed to room temp., and use a fork or spoon to combine ingredients to keep the warmth of your hands from melting the butter. You want those tiny chunks of butter to melt inside the oven to get a perfectly crispy and flaky crust.

  • When given the option, always try to go with fresh or frozen fruit. Canned pie fillings are great for the dead of winter or pie-in-a-pinch situations, but they're also filled with exorbitant amounts of sugar and thickening agents. By using fresh or frozen fruit, you get better flavor and more control over your ingredients.
  • Regardless of your crust or filling, it's just as important to have the right baking dish. Pies are typically served in deep dishes with sloped edges that can be smooth or wavy around the rim.

    • Clear tempered glass dishes are great for beginner bakers, as the see-through glass allows you to closely monitor the color of the crust as it bakes.

    • Heavy ceramic pans retain heat well, making these a great option for pies you'd like to serve warm or pies you plan on transporting elsewhere.

    • Non-stick, dark metal pans also retain heat well and help the crust achieve a deliciously golden brown hue, but be careful not to damage non-stick coatings with sharp knives while serving.

    • Tart pans can be used in place of pie dishes; the fluted edges act as a handy guide for creating a beautifully decorative crust edge.

Now, to get more fruit-specific. The style of crust, whether to blind bake (pre-bake), and the method of cooking the filling are all dependent on the type of fruit you're planning on using.

Apple

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What better place to start than with the classic?

The fruit:

  • Firm apple varieties maintain their texture better in the oven, so opt for these when possible. For a unique and mouthwatering flavor combination, use both tart and sweet apples.
  • Skin and thinly slice your apples. Layer into the pie crust to avoid crust-collapsing gaps in your filling. Thin apple slices also release less water than their chunky counterparts, keeping your crust from becoming limp and soggy.
  • Consider parboiling your apples before placing them in the oven to release shape-holding pectin in the fruit.

How much fruit to buy: 6-8 C; 8 small, 6 medium, or 5 large apples

The crust:

  • Double crust or lattice crust
  • Blind bake optional, but not necessary.

Recipes to try:

Peach

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A Southern staple just begging to be served with a huge scoop of vanilla bean ice cream.

The fruit:

  • Skinned and pitted fresh peaches provide the best flavor, but canned or frozen peaches work just as well. Make sure your peach wedges are approximately 1/2" thick.
  • Peaches can be skinned more easily by blanching. For an even easier option, try using a Zyliss soft fruit peeler.
  • Whether they're fresh, thawed, or canned, we recommend sprinkling your peaches with sugar and letting them sit for at least twenty minutes. Thoroughly drain any juice that's produced to avoid a runny, soggy filling that never quite sets.

How much fruit to buy: 5-6 C; 10-12 small or 6-7 large peaches

The crust:

  • Double crust or lattice crust
  • Blind bake can better ensure a crispy crust, but is not necessary.

Recipes to try:

Plum

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Deep ruby-red and pleasantly tart, this plum pie is a unique, delicious, and super easy dessert to make. (No exaggeration -- this pie is one of the easiest on the list to make.)

The fruit:

  • Pit your plums before slicing in halves or quarters. Fill your pie crust -- no peeling necessary!
  • Dry ingredients like flour, sugar, and spices are added on top of the plums placed in the pie crust. With this super simple recipe, you don't need to worry about pre-cooking, blanching, etc.

How much fruit to buy: 4 C; approx. 1-1/2 lb of plums

The crust:

  • Double crusts work best to keep the rich, juicy pieces of plum locked into the crust as it bakes. Thick lattices can do the same thing with an extra aesthetically pleasing touch.
  • No blind baking is needed for this simple pie.

Recipes to try:

Strawberry

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An ultra-sweet, bright, and fresh classic that'll be devoured at any time of year.

The fruit:

  • Because of their juicy (and consequently runny) nature, strawberries are often incorporated into no-bake pies that utilize gelatin to set the filling. Cheesecake fillings can also be used for a sturdier pie.
  • Strawberries will release more moisture when sliced, so try to use small, whole strawberries whenever possible.
  • The cook-juice method allows the sweet, juicy flavors of the strawberries to come forward without turning the berries into seedy, mushy lumps.

How much fruit to buy: approx. 6 C; 4 pint baskets of strawberries

The crust:

  • Single crust (if no bake), double crust, or lattice crust
  • Blind bake highly recommended
  • Bake on the lowest oven rack to ensure the crispiest crust.

Recipes to try:

Cherry

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Channel your inner Special Agent Dale Cooper (Twin Peaks, anyone?), and eat this dang fine cherry pie with a cup of hot, fresh coffee.

The fruit:

  • Cherries can range from syrupy sweet to mouth-puckeringly tart, so be sure to taste test your fruit and adjust your sugar levels accordingly.

    • Super sweet cherries can be cut with lemon juice to keep it from becoming cloying. If your cherries are tart, add 2-3 extra tablespoons of sugar to avoid a pie that would put Warhead candies to shame.

  • Always remember to pit your cherries before baking! If you don't have a cherry pitter and can't run to the store to grab one, here are some alternative pitting methods.
  • Use the cook-juice method to create a rich, flavorful, and jammy cherry filling.

How much fruit to buy: 6 C; approx. 1 lb of cherries

The crust:

  • Lattice crusts work the best to help release steam as the cherries and juice bake.
  • Blind bake highly recommended
  • Bake on the lowest oven rack to ensure the crispiest crust.

Recipes to try:

Raspberry and Blackberry

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Naturally sweet, jammy, and oh, so tempting, soft and dark berry pies are the perfect alternative to more traditional staples like apple and cherry.

The fruit:

  • Just like cherries, raspberries and blackberries can vary in sweetness depending on the specific batch you buy. Make sure to taste test and adjust sugar levels accordingly.
  • Although it seems counterintuitive, don't wash your raspberries or blackberries before baking. Their delicate skin doesn't hold up well under running water, and they're already packed with juice as it is. Pick out any moldy berries or rogue stems, and you're set.
  • Macerating and reducing your dark berries will help reduce runny juices without completely breaking down the fruit's flimsy structure. Be prepared to use thickening agents like corn starch or arrowroot to maintain the pie's structural integrity once baked.

How much fruit to buy: 6 C; 6 1/2-pint containers of raspberries or blackberries

The crust:

  • Lattice crusts work the best to help release steam and cook the juicy pie filling evenly.
  • Blind bake highly recommended
  • Bake on the lowest oven rack possible to ensure the crispiest crust.

Recipes to try:

Blueberry

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A flaky, butter crust complements the fresh, tart flavor of blueberries to create a mouthwatering pie perfect for any time of year.

The fruit:

  • Wild blueberries are smaller and often more tart than regular blueberries. You can use whichever you prefer, but make sure to adjust your berry and sugar quantity appropriately.

    • If you're using wild blueberries, plan to double your berry amount.

    • Regular blueberries hold a higher water content, so they may need more thickening agents to keep your pie from becoming runny.

  • Blueberry skins (fresh or frozen) contain oxalic acid, which destroys uncooked starches and thickening agents, resulting in a purple, runny mess. For a perfectly set blueberry pie, add your blueberries to pre-cooked starch.
  • Depending on the batch of blueberries you have, their flavor might be a little mild. Add lemon juice or lemon zest to the filling to help bring out the sweet, tart flavors of your blueberries.

How much fruit to buy: 6 C; 3 pint baskets of blueberries

The crust:

  • Lattice crust works the best to help release steam and cook the juice pie filling evenly.
  • Blind baking might be helpful if you're using plump regular blueberries, but it could be omitted to save time if you're using wild blueberries.

Recipes to try:

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