We are having problems with the pies we make for sale at our bakery. The pies are made in aluminum pans that can be carried away by customers -- we make individual 6" pies and larger 9" pies. The pies are made and frozen then baked as needed. We do blueberry, cherry, strawberry rhubarb, apple and peach crumble. We are having trouble with pie fillings remaining soupy even though they are baked until bubbly. Also, leakage from the pies make the crust stick to the pans -- so much so that they cannot be cut at all. we do spray the pans with pan spray. any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Problems With Frozen Pies For Commercial Operation
Regarding the problem of your pie fillings remaining soupy:
A) Do you pre-cook your fillings? and
B) What type of thickener are you using? Tapioca? Cornstarch? Arrowroot? etc
I ask because cornstarch, for example, doesn't thicken highly acidic ingredients very well, and it also doesn't hold up to freezing.
Regarding the leakage/sticking to the pan problem:
This isn't an issue if your bottom crust has no cracks or holes in it. You also need a good crimped edge so that the filling, when it bubbles up, cannot leak over the edge and down inside the pan. Also, you should have a little bubbling up over the top crust, but it shouldn't be such a large amount that you are even having that problem. This may be related to the fact that your fillings aren't thickening up.
I share the opinion of @chefpeon
Although I somewhat disagree about the cornstarch not being acid stable but I agree that cooked-up (native) cornstarch is not very freeze/thaw stable (as it's called in industrial food science) particularly if it's not cooked up first. Commercial bakeries use modified cornstarch to obtain good freeze/thaw stable gels. You may investigate this ingredient from your ingredient supplier.
Otherwise, if you wish to pursue with ordinary cornstarch, my suggestion is to fully cook the filling separately (on the stove top) and add the once cooled filling to a very cold uncooked formed pie crust then immediately proceed to freezing the product. This way the filling will not leach into the uncooked dough while it's thawed/liquid and before it cooks (gels) up. Also quick freezing will also minimize leaching.
Also, by doing it this way, the filling will not bubble-up excessively (because it will by already thick) and spill over the pie crust.
@Luc_H, I'm not even sure you know what you're talking about because you completely contradicted yourself. First, you wrote:
First of all, this sentence left me scratching my head. Huh? Second, you agreed that cooked up native cornstarch is not very freeze/thaw stable, which is absolutely true.
I know from personal experience in production pie making, and regarding other cornstarch thickened items, such as pastry cream for example, that if you "cook it up", then freeze it, you're gonna have a bad time. I froze pastry cream once. I can tell you, it breaks down and turns into an unsalvageable soupy mess. Anything else you cook up with cornstarch yields the same result. It breaks down if you freeze it.
Then you write:
See what you did there? You just told the OP to do something we both agree does not work.
If you are going to make up pies to freeze and bake off later, and your filling is cornstarch thickened, you DO NOT pre cook the filling. You toss the fruit, sugars and spices/flavorings together, pour in pie shell, add top crust and freeze. If you cook up the filling first, make up the pies, freeze, then bake, the cornstarch thickened liquid breaks down and becomes runny.
You are right in your suggestion that using modified food starch, such as Clear Jel, eliminates much of the headaches:
I love Clear Jel. Not INSTANT Clear Jel though. I hate that stuff.
Lastly, I don't know if you see the message at the top of this forum, but if you're not a professional pastry chef, you are free to read, but refrain from posting here. If you are a pro or a former pro, perhaps you should change your moniker to reflect that. However, judging from this and past posts of yours, it seems to me that you are quoting from food science books and lack any real-world experience in the pastry business. The information you just contributed is confusing and contradictory and not helpful to the OP.
Just personal preference. I've never had a need for it because all my fillings are cooked anyway. When I have had the opportunity to use it, I didn't like the lumpiness that happened afterward.
I'm an instant clear jel hater also.It may be in my mind, It may come from decades ago when I had to blend large quantities of it with sugar and other ingredients and inhaling that latex type paint smell like flour. You have to really dilute the instant in order to use it.. Or like @chefpeon says, it gets lumpy. I can detect the instant if it's used. It has an uncooked smell like that of flour added to thicken a sauce and flour taste is not cooked out. I also prefer the tender texture of cooked clear jel. I always found the instant to result in a rubbery product. Maybe I never used it right. More then once, I've had rookies use the instant straight. Then spend 2 hours putting the filling through a screen to rid the little balls of powdered jel.