- Which pies can be stored at room temperature?
- Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Hi-Dome Covered Pie Pan
- Which pies can be frozen?
- When should you refrigerate pies?
- How should you reheat pie?
There are pies for every time of year, but most would probably agree that fall and early winter is truly Pie Season™. Come mid-November, home cooks everywhere start packing pie crusts with delicately fanned slices of apple or pear, maple-sweetened pecans, or spiced pumpkin custard.
Of course, along with the holidays comes the inevitable food storage dilemmas. In the months when your refrigerator is overflowing with turkeys, hams, and brussels sprouts, you may not have room to add your buttery, flaky-crusted friends. Fortunately, depending on the pie, you may not have to give up any fridge space at all, and if time is also a factor in your holiday cooking, you may even be able to make your pies way ahead of time and freeze them whole, depending on the type of pie.
I spoke with cookbook author Erin Jeanne McDowell (the pie queen herself), who tells me that when you’re trying to determine the best storage method, it helps to think of pies in terms of four main categories: fruit pies (like apple or cherry), custard pies (think pecan and pumpkin), cream and cold-set pies (chiffon, coconut cream, or anything with citrus curd), and savory pies. While there are different types of crust (cookie crusts, or butter/shortening pastry crusts), the fillings are the most important distinction when you’re making storage decisions.
Jill Remby, owner/operator of Petsi Pies, shared her Pie Care Card (which she hands out to customers with their pies) with me, which breaks pies down into the same categories. I talked to Remby, McDowell, and chef and cookbook author Cheryl Day to get expert advice on how best to store each type of pie. (Of course, the real answer for the best place to store pie is in your stomach.)
Which pies can be stored at room temperature?
While no pie should be stored on the counter indefinitely, McDowell tells me that she likes to store fruit and custard pies at room temperature. She also mentions that you don’t want to slice these two types of pie until they have cooled to room temperature, anyway, so they’re great options for making ahead of time. McDowell says that fruit and custard pies are best eaten within the first 24 hours after baking, but can be stored at room temperature for up to two days—any longer than that, and the crust will start to get soggy.
McDowell recommends wrapping the pie well with either plastic wrap or beeswax wrap, but also stands by her Pie Box. Day recommends aluminum foil, but is also a big fan of Nordicware’s covered pie tin, which helps cut down on waste.
Nordic Ware Natural Aluminum Commercial Hi-Dome Covered Pie Pan
Which pies can be frozen?
Both Day and McDowell agree that fruit pies freeze well, but McDowell adds custard pies and savory pies to the list. With savory pies, there are more caveats, since certain root vegetables (like potatoes and carrots) take on unpleasant textures when frozen after cooking, but custard and fruit pies are generally okay to freeze. McDowell recommends taking a bit more care with wrapping in this case. A well-wrapped pie, she says, will keep up to two months in the freezer.
“It’s best to freeze whole baked pies” after they’ve cooled, she says. “Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and a layer of foil and freeze until firm. Thaw overnight in the fridge. If you’re able, I’d recommend refreshing the pie in an oven, wrapped in foil, to re-crisp the crust.”
While McDowell recommends freezing whole pies after baking (“I just think freezing before baking has the potential to ruin so much of the effort you’ve put into it—I never, ever do it myself,” she says.), Day suggests a different approach. While the texture of unbaked filling can change too much during the freezing process, “I highly recommend forming your pie crusts and freezing them ahead. Stack the crusts in the pan and wrap airtight and freeze,” she says. “As for top crusts and lattice, you can roll rounds, separate each with parchment paper and stack in the freezer. Pull out to thaw in the refrigerator overnight or on the kitchen counter for the same day and fit to top your pie and crimp or make lattice.”
Leftover pie is best within the first few days, while the crust is still nice and flaky.
When should you refrigerate pies?
Remby’s Pie Care Card says that fruit, custard, and cream pies can all last up to five days in the fridge, with savory pies keeping for up to a week. While this is certainly true for food safety reasons, McDowell reiterates that all pies—even those that have been refrigerated—should be eaten within two days for ideal texture and optimal crust flakiness. “If you feel squeamish about keeping any pie at room temperature, it’s definitely okay to refrigerate them. Personally, I want to treat the crust with as much respect as I can—and room temperature gives me the most control and stability.” However, she does add that both savory (particularly ones made with meat), and cold set or cream pies absolutely require refrigeration.
How should you reheat pie?
If you’ve baked your pie ahead of time, whether storing in the fridge, freezer, or at room temperature, you may want to breathe a little life back into the crust before serving. McDowell shares specific instructions for re-crisping a pie crust if it has lost its luster: “Wrap the pie in foil and place into a cold oven. Set the oven to 375° Fahrenheit. When the oven has fully preheated, leave the pie in for 10 minutes more. Unwrap the pie, and return to the oven for 5 minutes.”
For slicing, Day comes in hot with a pro tip that blew my mind after years of serving myself the sacrificial first slice (can anyone remove the first slice of pie without it falling apart?) “Slice the first piece, but don’t remove it from the pan. Slice the next piece, and once you’ve made the cut, it gives you enough flexibility to release that first slice of pie. Use a sturdy pie server to transfer that perfect slice of pie right onto the plate.” I tried this move out and, sure enough, cutting the second slice before serving the first gives just enough wiggle room to remove that first slice without any snags.