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Why did my pie come out runny?

The first time I made a blueberry pie, it came out nice and thick. I loved it so much, I went and made it again. It was like someone poured juice into my pie. :( I even let it chill overnight. $24 worth of blueberries gone to waste. God...blueberries are so expensive where I live. $6 every small pack is ridiculous.

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    1. What did you use as a thickener? If cornstarch, that's probably your problem. It can be very temperamental.

      12 Replies
      1. re: biondanonima

        Assuming it was in there. My first attempt at an apple pie I forgot the thickener.

        I do have one question, why not just eat the pie, runny and all?? It'll taste the same, just not look good. No waste.

        You maybe needed to leave it in the oven longer. I've had that happen as well although from your description, that's unlikely.


        1. re: Davwud

          I had to throw it out. My dad is very judgmental and he can really get to you when you mess up. He already thinks its stupid to even make your own pie when you could buy one at the store. Let him see that your pie turned out runny and hes going to smile and make sure you hear everything he has to say. I rather lose the money than have him go Gordon Ramsay on me.

          1. re: Eric_Cartman

            Maybe you could've accidentally spilled it on him.


            1. re: Eric_Cartman

              Wow. HE'S judgmental and yet he thinks a store bought pie is better than home made? You shouldn't even bother. PS: I use tapioca, grind it in a coffee grinder to a powder so I don't get big pearls in the pie. Sometimes it comes out too thick. I'm not big on precision in pies.

              1. re: Eric_Cartman

                After reading that you threw out a blueberry pie because it was too runny I have to give you my standard rant about eating homemade pie. Almost no one cares that your pies are runny. (If your dad does, then that is more pie for you.) Making pie is a declining skill. Everyone I know would eat homemade pie, whether the crust is like cardboard, the filling is runny, or the fruit is overdone. Almost no one will care, because the pie is homemade. Homemade always tastes better than storebought. I'd have eaten your pie and been happy to do so. I might have begged for a piece to take home.

                Don't expect perfection in your homemade pies, especially at first. Just keep baking them and eating them. If Dad wants to be judgemental, I imagine he'll still eat a piece. But he is in the minority of persons blessed to eat homemade pie, which is becoming scarce as hens' teeth.

                Keep baking and don't ever apologize.

                By the way I've never posted an answer to a fictional character before.

                1. re: sueatmo

                  I agree with sueatmo, don't ever apologize and don't ever throw out a pie because it's runny. That would have been perfect over vanilla ice cream, or warm in a bowl under that vanilla ice cream.
                  I would have eaten the damn thing with a big serving spoon right out of the pie pan.

                  Remember everyone's mom used to tell you to eat because there are "starving children in China/Armenia/Africa"? Well, there are starving Chowhounders here that would have loved to have had your runny pie, so please don't let your dad's quirks make you waste perfectly delicious food.

                2. re: Eric_Cartman

                  Tell your father he's a rude, ungrateful twit with no taste.

                  Then, next time you make a pie for somebody else (your father doesn't deserve another chance!), try Instant ClearJel. It thickens fruit pies without making them clumpy or cloudy. I've bought it from the King Arthur Flour catalog, but it looks like Amazon sells it, too.

                  1. re: MsMaryMc

                    When I make fruit pies, I generally use Minute Tapioca.

                    1. re: sueatmo

                      Me, too, sueatmo. Always Minute Tapioca. I like the texture it gives the filling.

                      1. re: jmcarthur8

                        I use minute tapioca in all my fruit pies, even apple. Keeps the filling clear. The key is letting it soak a solid 15 minutes with the berries and sugar before baking.

                1. re: Eric_Cartman

                  Cornstarch doesn't always play nicely with acidic ingredients (like fruit, lemon juice, etc.). My guess is that either your ingredients were too acidic, or the pie didn't get hot enough to fully activate the thickening properties of the cornstarch. You might also have had especially juicy berries, in which case there may not have been enough thickener. I prefer tapioca as a thickener for fruit pies, but if you like cornstarch, many on this board have had great success with Nick Malgieri's method, which involves cooking some of the fruit with the cornstarch first on the stove, to guarantee full activation of the thickening properties. Here's a detailed description:


              2. I have a cheat for runny pies: I get my turkey baster, slurp the juice out of the top vent-hole, cook it in a saucepan until I think it's thickened properly, and then pour it back in with a funnel or pitcher. Nobody is the wiser.

                Sometimes it's simply that the pie didn't cook enough, sometimes there's variation in the liquid berries give off, and sometimes your thickener failed. I start by bringing the liquid to a boil, then if it doesn't thicken, I might add a beurre manie to thicken it more.

                4 Replies
                1. re: mhays

                  Now that is a great idea. And I agree with sueatmo - NEVER throw away pie! I've made many a sour cherry pie that turn out runny - I just eat the pie and drink the juice!!!

                    1. re: mhays

                      Love this! But I'd just eat the pie anyway.

                      1. re: sueatmo

                        More work to do this than eat the runny pie.


                    2. This is not a failed blueberry pie, it is a successful Blueberry dessert! Oh my, don't ever throw that sucker away again. It would be fantastic with vanilla ice cream, use it as a mix in with the crust pieces, deelish. My hubby would love something like that.

                      That said, one of the more difficult things to learn to deal with, for me, is baking/cooking failures. I used to pout and be so upset that I ruined something. Now, I treat each one as a learning experience, I analyze what I did wrong or what I could change to make it better and just attach notes to my recipe for next time.

                      Quick story, my family, from before I was born, made Anisette cookies. I have a picture of myself and my grandmother , then with my dad making these cookies for Christmas. He made huge batches of these cookies for Christmas, the recipe I have uses over a dozen eggs. Well, when he passed on I started making these cookies myself, guess what? They are not right. The dough is too moist to roll. Every year at Christmas my family says the cookies are delicious, but I know they are not right. So every year I try to adjust the recipe to make it more like my father did. Do you know how many years I have been making these failed cookies? Seventeen years. The point of the story is I refuse to give up and so should you. If you love to bake, don't let a couple failures stop you. It's part of the process!

                      1. My money's on the filling didn't get hot enough (didn't bubble). Regarding juicier berries, it'd have to be an awful lot more juice to go from a properly set pie to a pie so runny it was blueberry juice. That's why my money's on the filling simply didn't get hot enough.

                        As a side note, next time, if you have a baking stone, preheat your oven with the stone on the rack you're going to bake you pie on. Then, when you're ready to put your pie in, put it directly on the preheated stone. The heat from the stone will heat the bottom of the crust more than if you simply baked in on the rack and will give your bottom crust a nice, golden brown look and will give you a crispy, flaky bottom crust rather than a blonde, soggy bottom crust.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: 1POINT21GW

                          The baking stone is a great idea--but if you use glass pie plates, don't put a cold pie plate right on the hot stone. Even Pyrex could shatter! I thoroughly preheat my baking stone in the very bottom of the oven, then bake the pie on the lowest oven rack for the first 15-20 minutes. After that I move the rack out of the way and put the pie directly on the stone for the remainder of the baking time. The bottom crust gets nice and crispy.

                        2. What I think happened is your filling didn't get hot enough to thicken properly.

                          In order for cornstarch to thicken the filling it has to come to a boil. If you look at my tiny Chowhound icon next to my screen name you will see what I call a "Smiling Apple Pie" - the filling oozing out of the crust creating a juicy smile... That's how hot your filling needs to get. The crust starts to heave up and down and starts to "sing."

                          I have given numerous hands on demos to frustrated pie bakers. On the filling side of the "fail," the most common problem is what you experienced, runny filling. This is EASILY remedied.

                          I'll assume you had enough cornstarch and baked the pie in a hot oven (400 or 425 degrees). If not, that could have been one problem.

                          That said, the temperature, temperature, temperature of the filling is the key.

                          Were the berries cold when you put the filling in the shell? Were they stored in the fridge and used cold? If so the filling might not have gotten hot enough when baked.

                          Were juices slightly oozing from the pie when it was close to done baking? If not, the filling didn't get hot enough.

                          Next time (and there needs to be a next time, get on that horse again and ride my friend), here are some tips to follow.

                          Berries need to be room temperature or warmer.

                          To take this to the max you can go a step further. Take half the berries, put them in a saucepan on the stove with a couple tablespoons of water, your sugar and any other flavoring (I like a little lemon juice in mine) and bring quickly to a boil. This heats them up, starts dissolving the sugar, and gets the cooking process started. Stir them into the remaining berries, then stir in your cornstarch (dissolved in a little water) pour into your pie shell, top with butter and crust and pop into hot oven and bake. Now you have a warm filling going in the oven and should heat up nicely and bubbly.

                          Your pie should NOT be runny.

                          NOW, If the berries were room temp and the oven temp was hot (400 - 425) and the filling did come to a boil and oozed while baking, then I would say you didn't have enough thickener for this particular pie.

                          Cornstarch works fine but I prefer using Minute Tapioca as a thickener for fruit pies. It is so good that the instructions for using it in pies are on the box. I even use it for apple pies. BUT, even minute tapioca won't do the job unless the pie filling gets bubbly hot.

                          Good luck!

                          Picture: Minute Tapioca, the pie baker's friend. Just make sure it soaks with the berries and sugar so it breaks down a bit before baking. You can even cook the soaked berries, sugar and tapioca briefly in a saucepan to warm the filling before putting it into the shell and baking.