Peaches, Blueberries, Lattice, Oh My!

Updated: Aug 21

Thanks to everyone who followed our crust series last month! This month we are focusing on the 2nd best part of pie...the filling! Each week we will be talking about this month’s featured flavors: Peach Lattice, Blueberry Lattice, Key Lime, Savory Tomato, and our new hand pies: BBQ Chicken and Zucchini, Tomato, and Mozzarella. We will talk about the history, the biology, and the chemistry involved in these fillings. This week is all about Peach and Blueberry pie. But before we talk about pie, let's talk about fruit.

Peaches are fruits of the Prunus persica tree, and are “single-seeded drupes with hard central stones, pulpy white or yellow fleshes, and thin fuzzy skins” (Merriam-Webster). The peach has been around for a while, with its earliest domestication being documented as early as 6000 BC in the Zhejiang Province of China. The peach was eventually brought to the Americas by Spanish explorers in the 16th century, but did not begin commercial production in the US until the 19th century in Maryland, Delaware, Georgia, South Carolina, and Virginia (Wikipedia).

Most of the time you see peach pie, it has a lattice top. Why? (Here’s a hint: it’s not just for looks.) Peaches have a high water content (about 89%) and produce high amounts of juice as they cook. The lattice top allows steam to vent and prevent excessive liquid build-up during baking, resulting in thick, delicious syrup. This Southern treat is best enjoyed warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or whipped cream.

A blueberry is a perennial flowering plant in the genus Vaccinium, which also includes cranberries, bilberries, huckleberries and Madeira blueberries (Wikipedia). Blueberries were first domesticated in the 20th century in the US. Northern highbush blueberries (Vaccinium corymbosum L.) are the most cultivated species in the world, due to high fruit quality and resistance to low temperatures. According to the FAO and the USDA, the United States was the largest blueberry-producing country from 2009–2013, with an average production of over 200 thousand tons. In the US, blueberries are grown in almost all states, but about 70% of total production comes from Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Oregon and Georgia (Michalska and Łysiak).

Blueberries are a very versatile fruit. They can be boiled down into jam, jelly, and syrup, dried like raisins, and eaten whole in smoothies, and of course, pie! Blueberry pie was first eaten by early American settlers, documented as far back as 1872 in the Appledore Cook Book. Blueberry pie--made with wild Maine blueberries--is the official state dessert of the U.S. state of Maine (Wikipedia). Just like peaches, blueberries have a high water content (84%), meaning they too make a lot of juice when baked. Unlike Peach pie, Blueberry pie can have a full top crust (like our Classic Apple) or a crumb topping (like our Dutch Apple). Blueberries are high in vitamin C, and are well known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-carcinogenic, and their cardiovascular protective properties (Michalska and Łysiak).

TL;DR: These pies are made of fruit, fruit is healthy, therefore, pie is healthy. Be good to your body and order a pie!

©2018 by Maia Harrell.

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