Archive for September, 2020

Invasive Species Pie

September 27, 2020

One of the joys I have is when my oldest son and I do some kind of cooking together. I believe creative cooking appeals to his artist’s soul. He doesn’t like to do everyday cooking but special things – like birthday cakes or Blackberry tarts. He likes to cook mushrooms they find in season on our farm. Even though he is 19 years old, he wants me to assist him – which I think is very sweet and it is one of the very few things we do together, though rare.

We have an Autumn Olive bush right at the edge of our driveway that has recently been producing very delicious berries and it was heavily laden. Friday night he got inspired to pick a bunch. There was some trial and error – trying to mash the pulp and juice out of raw berries through a strainer was impossible nor did using the blender work.

I read something about boiling them (it also deactivates the seeds since the plant is considered invasive). We gave it a try. It did not take a lot of heat in our Electric Kettle. We mashed them with a potato masher while they cooked. Only a few minutes really until they were ready. Worked like a charm and the pulp and juice went right through the strainer but not the seeds and skins. It created the most beautiful color of a puree that tasted better than the raw berries and it didn’t separate, even in the fridge overnight (many posts I read in researching this talked about the lycopene separating out from the pulp as juice).

Saturday, we made the crust and baked the pie.

Here’s our recipe –

Crust Ingredients and Directions

2-2/3 cups Whole Wheat flour
1 tsp Real Salt
2/3 cup Flax Oil
6 tbsp Whole Milk

We pressed just over 1/2 the crust mixture into a 9″ pan, very crumbly, reminded me a lot of a Graham Cracker crust. My son complained it was too dry and after we pressed it as firmly as we could, he brushed the surface with more milk. It soaked in as we cooked the crust at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. It came out good and solid.

Filing Ingredients and Directions

2 cups of Autumn Olive puree
1/2 cup Birch tree sugar (Xylitol)
3 tbsp of Whole Wheat flour as thickener
(though we didn’t think it needed it)

I did run the large crystals of the Xylitol through my coffee grinder to make it finer. We poured the puree into the crust and laid some lattice strips cut from the crust mixture over the top (my son added more milk to the leftover mixture until it was a consistency he liked).

Baked this for 15 mins at 400 degrees. The instructions were for 10 minutes or until the puree bubbles. Since the puree was cold from the fridge (and not at room temperature or warmer) we did the extra 5 mins and then decided even though it wasn’t bubbling, since we cooked the berries the night before, it was good enough.

The outcome was very sweet. My son thought we could have cut the sugar to 1/4 cup or even left it out. I think it depends on individual tastes. The original recipe called for up to 1 cup of sugar. I thought there was still a bit of tartness from the berries detectable. The crust being whole wheat added complexity. It held up quite solid and added a crunch since the filling was soft, a bit like a pudding pie.

My sons get a kick out of calling the result – Invasive Species Pie. We did make a few cookies with some leftover crust mixture from making the lattice, crystals of Xylitol sprinkled on top and a spot of leftover puree in the middle. They were pretty and we all liked the taste of them.