Homemade Sugar Free Peach Pie

sugar free peach pie

Peaches are one of the wonderful fruits that are fresh and abundant in the summer months. Stock full of vitamins and minerals (like Vitamin E, K, A and lots of B’s), there’s nothing like biting into a fresh juicy peach on a summer’s day.

We often get our peaches fresh from the Okanagan fruit stands while out visiting Gran and Grandpa in BC, ok that is the only place we get our peaches. Once I’ve bitten into a fresh ripe Okanagan peach I just can’t bring myself to buy them in the store. They simply aren’t as good, not as juicy and not as flavorful. So once we’ve eaten them all I don’t get any more (unless I can go back to BC and get some).

Besides eating them fresh (my son sometimes eating 4-6 at a time!), I usually make peach jam, (which I love!), and make the odd crumble. It wasn’t until my neighbor went on one time about how much he loved peach pie that I even considered the possibility. I love making pies in the summer with all the fresh fruit, cherry pie being my favorite, but I had never made peach. So I set out to experiment.

sugar free peach pieWhen I originally found and made this peach pie recipe it was before we had eliminated refined sugars from our diet. So when I pulled up the recipe this summer (as my mother was asking that I share it with her) I had to make a few adjustments. I hadn’t realized that it still had white sugar in it.

I thought about using agave nectar, which I knew would work and is what I did originally when I transformed my cherry pie recipe, but I have heard a number of reports lately that agave is no better than refined white sugar. I had recently tried using honey in a pound cake recipe that turned out successfully so I decided to give honey a go for the peach pie.

As luck would have it, it turned out great, and everybody ate it up. With my oldest son even commenting that my pies are way better than Gran’s, as he inhaled his pie. My tip though is to make sure that you mix the honey in very well with the flour mixture so you don’t get any clumps of flour. The other option is to do the flour mixture without the honey, sprinkle it over the peaches, and then pour the honey over the peaches. It does produce a lot of juice regardless so I recommend a deep pie dish for sure.

Sugar Free Peach Pie

2 – 9″ pie crusts (store bought or homemade*)

1 egg beatensugar free peach pie

5c. sliced peaches, peeled and sliced

2 tbsp. lemon juice

½ c. flour

1 c. honey

½ tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp. nutmeg

1/4 tsp. salt

2 tbsp. butter

Brush some of the beaten egg on crust to keep from getting soggy. Place peaches in a bowl and sprinkle with some lemon juice, mix gently. In a separate bowl, mix flour, honey, spices and pour over peaches, mix gently. Pour into pie crust, dot with butter. Put on top crust fold edges under. Flute or seal by pressing with a fork dipped in egg. Brush egg over the top crust.

Bake at 450 F for 10 minutes, then reduce heat and bake for 30-35 minutes until crust is brown.

Enjoy! (And don’t forget the ice cream! We enjoy a delectable creamy non dairy vanilla ice cream by Rice Dream. It’s fantastic.)

* I make my own pie crust which turns out flaky and delicious every time simply by using Tenderflake and following their recipe on the box.

What’s your favorite kind of pie in the summer? Share in the comments below.

The Perfect Dill Pickle – How to Make your Own

IMG_1871My mother has always made the best dill pickles! Ever since I was little I remember having homemade pickles. I remember going out to the valley in the summertime and picking mountains of cucumbers and how Mom always said I was a ‘good picker’ (which meant I would get in there and pick well and for hours until we were done).

I always enjoyed going up to the farmer at the end of our day and weighing the cukes to see how many pounds we had picked. Then we would head home and Mum would get to work pickling the cukes for the yummy pickles that were to come.

IMG_1917She made jars and jars of them. At least 80-100 each time, as we would go through a jar of pickles a week in our family. The kitchen was set up industriously, or it seemed so, while my Mum completed all the steps for making pickles. We often had sandwiches or leftovers for dinner during this time as Mum did not want to stop to make dinner! But we didn’t mind and it was what we expected at that time of year.

When I first moved away I asked my Mum to make me pickles and send them to me. I had become a pickle snob and I would only eat my Mum’s homemade. I would refuse to buy the ones in the store! She lovingly did this for a while, but when my parents moved to the Okanagan, it was then the perfect time for her to teach me the art of making the perfect dill pickle.

IMG_1867When the pickling cukes were ready she called and I packed up the family and went out to BC to make pickles. The first time I did it I don’t think I was paying that close attention – (ha ha sorry Mum), but I think I was just so excited to be making my own that the information on what I was doing didn’t stick. Last summer, when we were out of pickles and I headed to BC once more, was the time that it stuck on what to do.

I remember commenting to my mother how many steps there were and I didn’t realize that there were so many. Now I more fully understand why she was in the kitchen for days doing the cucumbers.

I had bought 40 lbs of cucumbers, which usually works out to about 40 jars of pickles; and some fresh dill from a local farm in Kelowna. With everything ready to go we set to work. We had soaked the cucumbers during the day so by the evening after supper we were ready to go.

Matthew assisted with the cleaning and scrubbing of the cucumbers as that night he was given the option of going to bed or scrubbing cucumbers. He chose the cukes! which I thought was a hilarious way to avoid going to sleep but enjoyed his company and appreciated his help nonetheless.

IMG_1913We moved through all the steps and in only a few hours had finished all the jars and were ready to put our feet up and relax. Now the traditional dill pickle recipe does call for a tablespoon of brown sugar, which due to living sugar free I had to make a decision. I decided to leave it as I loved these pickles so much. But what I did do was an experiment. I made a number of jars using coconut sugar in place of the brown sugar, then I marked those jars so I would be able to tell which ones were which. I have yet to open a jar in which we used the coconut sugar, but I am very interested to see how they taste. I am hoping of course that it works, then we can also make our dill pickles sugar free and just as delicious! Of course, once we open them and give them a taste I will definitely share the result!

In the meantime, here is the traditional recipe for fabulous homemade dill pickles. One of the things I really enjoy about making them is doing it together with my Mum (and Matthew when he’s wanting to help). Not only does it make the job go by faster but it is a great bonding experience, where we can chat and connect, while completing the task at hand.

The only downside is we have to wait a few months before we can eat them! as they are not instantly ready. But trust me, it is worth the wait – and you to will become a dill pickle snob 🙂

Dill Pickles  

freshly picked cucumbers in a variety of sizes (choose the size of pickles you like but it is also nice to have some small ones to fit the ‘holes’ in the jars)  1 lb cucumbers yields approx one quart jar

fresh dillIMG_1869

pickling salt

brown sugar (coconut sugar)

pickling vinegar

fresh garlic

water

1 quart jars

Prepare the Cucumbers:

IMG_1916Soak freshly picked cucumbers in ice water overnight or at least, six hours. (This aids in removing the prickles off the cucumber as well as cleansing them).   Add more ice, at least once, as water begins to cool.  Scrub each cucumber with a vegetable brush, and return to cold water.

Wash and sterilize the jars:

Wash jars in hot soapy water and rinse well.  Then add a bit of water, just to cover the bottom, in each jar.  Place the jars on the rack in the oven, heated to 200 F.  This will sterilze them and make them hot, which is what you want because you will be pouring hot brine into them.  Option:  jars can also be heated in the microwave, again bit of water in the bottom of each jar and heat on high for 2-3 minutes; time varies depending on the number of jars you do at one time.

Sterilize and heat lids:

Place the lids and tops of the jars in a pot filled with water to cover them and heat to the boiling point.  Turn down heat, but keep them hot to pack the jars.

Prepare the Brine:

water

pickling vinegar

For each 4 cups of water, add 3/4 cups of pickling vinegar. The total amount  you make will depend on how many jars of pickles you are making. Using a large dutch oven pot you can make a triple batch, and then more as needed.

Mix water and pickling vinegar together and bring to a boil.  Keep hot until ready to pour into packed jars.

Pack the Jars:

IMG_1915

Fresh Dill

Put about 3 medium size pieces of garlic in bottom of jar. Add fresh dill, approx 2-3 “sprays” including the stalk.  Bend and arrange to fit in jar. Pack cucumbers in jar, quite tightly, using smaller cucumbers to fill the top space.  Add 1 tbsp of pickling salt and 1 tbsp of brown sugar or coconut sugar on top of packed cucumbers.  Pour hot brine over everything in jar to just below the rim of jar.

Seal the Jars:

Wipe the top of the jar with a cloth to make sure there are no particles of anything to interfere with the seal.  Place hot lid on top.  Add screw top.  Press down on lid as you are turning the screw top to seal.  Tighten securely.

Cool and Store:

Let stand, away from drafts until jar cools completely.  Label and store in cool, dark place.  It will be approx eight weeks minimum before pickles will be ready to eat.  Best if left for 3-4 months.

Summer Treats – Sugar Free Cherry Pie

One of the things I love about summer is all the fresh fruit that is available. Cherries, peaches, strawberries, blueberries, etc. It’s abundantly available, and it’s fresh, sweet and luscious, a taste sensation when you put it in your mouth.

I feel lucky that my parents live in the Okanagan where fresh fruit is rapidly abundant. Fruit stands and u-picks line the sides of the roads where it is not a matter if there is fruit but where you would like to get it from.

I always tend to get a little over zealous and buy lots of fruit to bring home. I make jam, freeze, eat it or make various desserts like crumbles and pies.

In fact last weekend when I was in the Okanagan I bought 20 lbs of cherries for $20. It was a steal of a deal! The only thing is when you buy that much fresh fruit you have to do something with it fairly quickly or your ‘steal of a deal’ ends up going rotten and moldy very quickly.

So there I was Tuesday night for 3 hours pitting and jamming cherries, trying to give some away to friends, and getting creative with what I was going to do with this fruit.

(I would highly recommend using a cherry pitter as this makes it much easier to pitt cherries and is something that the kids could do and help with – my son loves using the cherry pitter and I can easily enlist his help)

By the time I was done I was covered in cherry juice (and so was my kitchen), with a mound of cherry pits and stems in the sink and a huge mess to clean up. I never wanted to see another cherry again…

The benefit of all this was cherry pie. Cherry pie is one of my favorite pies, other than pumpkin and coconut cream, so when I was getting to the end of the cherries and still had a lot left I decided to treat myself.

As you may know there is lots of sugar in pie, but as sugar and dairy free household, I have become adept enough to make the appropriate substitutions and still have a delicious experience (where it tastes just as good as one with sugar, if not better). My mouth was already watering at the thought of this pie, with ice cream on top.

I used Martha Stewart’s Sweet Cherry Pie recipe that I found on the internet and adapted it accordingly using agave nectar instead of sugar. It turned out beautifully and everyone had 2 pieces! With ice cream of course!

Vanilla Rice Dream

As for the ice cream, I have recently discovered Rice Dream, a lactose and gluten free ice cream available in stores. It is also sugar free, as it is sweetened with brown rice syrup and agave nectar. It is quite good, in fact it is so good I had way more ice cream than I actually did pie!

I make my own crust (and have been praised for how good it is) simply by following the recipe on the Tenderflake® box, which I use in my crust. It creates a beautiful light and flaky crust.

This pie recipe used a lattice top crust, which I don’t usually do but decided to try it out, and though I found it did look very pretty, I prefer a full crust on the top. A good crust is something we really enjoy at our house, so the more of it the better!

Cherry Pie
  • 4 cups cherries
  • 1/3 cup agave nectar
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • All-purpose flour, for rolling
  • 1 large egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon water, for egg wash
  • 2-9 inch pie crusts (make your own or store bought)
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. On a floured surface, roll out pie crust one to a 14-inch round. Fold dough in half and gently place in middle of a 9 inch pie plate. Once centered unfold dough so that it fits evenly in the plate (do not stretch dough). Using pering knife trim dough to a 1-inch overhand all around.
  2. In a large bowl, combine cherries, agave nectar, cornstarch, and lemon juice; toss until cherries are well coated. Pour into prepared bottom crust.
  3. Roll out second crust to a 14-inch round. If creating lattice, cut into eight 1 1/2-inch-wide strips; discard the shortest two. Weave strips over filling to form a lattice. Using pering knife, trim strips so they hang over rim by 1 inch. Tuck strips under rim of bottom crust; press to seal. Crimp with a fork all around the edge. If choosing not to create lattice, simply fold crust in half and place over pie. Trim, press to seal and crimp as described.
  4. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush lattice/ crust with egg wash.
  5. Place pie on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until filling is bubbling rapidly all over, 60 to 70 minutes (tent with aluminum foil when crust starts to brown, about 40 minutes). Though original recipe calls for above baking time I found that pie was done in about 50-55 minutes. Please use times as approximate and gauge it according to your oven.
  6. Transfer pie to a wire rack, and let cool to room temperature, at least 3 hours.