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I had never heard of a pie with uncooked fruit until I met Mary Helen. Before I tried her Fresh Strawberry Pie I wasn’t much of a fruit pie fan, but then I fell hard. There is something so decadent about mounds of whole, sweet strawberries in a glaze of their own puree, nestled in a flaky, salty crust. It’s heaven.

Fresh Strawberry Pie served in a red ceramic pie pan

This fresh strawberry pie recipe is inspired by her and, to me, it is the perfect dessert for spring and summer.

I’ve mentioned Mary Helen before when I told you about her Skillet Cornbread and her Cheesy Potatoes. But I haven’t told you much about her. Imagine a woman with boundless energy, an eternal optimist, fiercely loyal to her family and friends, and oh so game to have a great time. That was Mary Helen.

This is one of my favorite pictures of her with Keith’s dad, Bob. It was taken at Keith’s and my 30th birthday dinner (Keith and I are 2 days apart.)

Bob and MaryHelen

We lost Mary Helen 6 years ago after a long battle with breast cancer. As I write this, I realize that yes, it was a battle, but she won. Not cancer, not even her death could take from her the intense love and devotion of her husband of 43 years, of her sons, of her daughters-in-law, of her niece and nephew, of her grandchildren, of her friends.  She was the kind of woman who leaves a void that can’t be filled by anything or anyone but her. We all miss her. We always will.

But, believe me, she wouldn’t want us to spend much time focusing on loss and sadness. She’d much rather show you how to make a fabulous pie. So, here goes…

pie crust

This recipe is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, with a couple of minor changes: a bit less sugar and a different brand of pectin. Instead of Sure-Jell, I used Pomona’s Universal Pectin which requires no sugar and is derived from fruit skin.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 5 minutes
Total: 25 minutes
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Calories: 335
Servings: 8 people
This is adapted from Cook’s Illustrated magazine with a few modifications.

Ingredients  

  • 1 9-inch pre-baked pie shell

For the filling:

  • 4 pints fresh strawberries rinsed, dried, and hulled, (3 lbs.)
  • 1/3 cup natural cane sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon each calcium powder and pectin powder from a box of Pomona’s Universal Pectin
  • pinch table salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

For the whipped cream:

  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 tablespoon sugar

Instructions 

To make the filling:

  • Choose 6 to 8 ounces of the least attractive berries and place them in a blender or food processor. Blend or process the berries to a smooth puree. You’ll have about about ¾ cup of puree.
  • In a medium saucepan, whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, calcium and pectin powders, and salt. Whisk in berry puree. Bring this mixture to a full boil over medium heat; cook and stir constantly for 2 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Set aside to cool to room temperature.
  • Meanwhile, place the remaining strawberries in a large bowl, cutting any very large strawberries in half.
  • Pour room temperature glaze over berries in bowl, gently fold the berries until they are evenly coated with glaze. Scoop coated berries in to prepared pie shell. Arrange berries so that any cut sides are down.
  • Refrigerate the pie until ready to serve: at least 2 hours and up to 5.

When you’re ready to serve the pie, prepare the whipped cream:

  • Whip chilled cream and sugar on medium-high speed until loose peaks form.
  • Cut the pie into 8 wedges and serve topped with whipped cream.

Notes

  1. Note that cook time does not include cooking pie shell and total time does not include time in the refrigerator to set up.
  2. This pie is excellent with my homemade Lard Pie Crust.

Nutrition

Calories: 335kcal | Carbohydrates: 43g | Protein: 4g | Fat: 18g | Saturated Fat: 9g | Cholesterol: 41mg | Sodium: 116mg | Potassium: 413mg | Fiber: 5g | Sugar: 21g | Vitamin A: 466IU | Vitamin C: 140mg | Calcium: 62mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

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26 Comments

  1. Norma says:

    Need help on where to buy calcium powder and also would like to know if it is really necessary or if i can just leave that out… Thanks

    1. Marissa says:

      Hi Norma,

      You’ll need something to thicken the glaze. I like to use Pomona’s Universal pectin powder because it doesn’t require sugar – the calcium powder is included in the box. Here’s a link – http://www.pomonapectin.com/

  2. WholeFoodBellies says:

    You are so right Marissa, I think Mary Helen and my mother in law would have been kindred spirits! This pie sounds amazing, and I love the glaze on those strawberries!

    1. Marissa says:

      Thank you, Donna – I think you’re right. 🙂 The glaze is so darn good – I do the same one with other berries as well.

  3. boardingace says:

    Mary Helen sounds awesome! Her legacy is inspiring to me!!! I wanted to second that this pie is sooooooooo good!!!!! We also love their Cook’s Country Icebox Strawberry Pie, which is quite a different style using sliced strawberries and gelatin. I have made them both twice each; this is my fav and the other is my husband’s fav, but we both love both, and I can’t imagine anyone not loving a slice of this pie!

  4. Carlene says:

    What is calcium powder and where do I find it ?

    1. Marissa says:

      Hi Carlene – I used the calcium powder in the Pomona’s Universal Pectin box (pictured above) http://www.pomonapectin.com/ 🙂

  5. Marissa says:

    Hi Olivia,

    I didn’t make calcium water – just added powder from the packets to the fruit puree. I would go with a rounded 1/4 teaspoon of each packet. Let me know how it goes!