A lemon meringue pie is made using shortbread or shortcrust pastry, delicious lemon curd fillings, and a smooth, fluffy meringue on top. It is one of the most popular desserts in the world, so much so that August 15 is known as National Lemon Meringue Pie Day. It usually has about 302.8 calories and is sold around the word at bakeries and diners.
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The History of the Lemon Meringue Pie
The lemon meringue pie can be dated back to medieval times where a Swiss baker called Alexander Frehse gained popularity for his version of the pie. However, the modern version of the pie is very different from back then. A modern version of the pie was created by The Quakers in the late 1700s. After which a renowned pastry chef called Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow, from Philadelphia, created the dish as we know it in 1806.
Storing Lemon Meringue Pie (Short-Term)
After you bake the pie, it is vital that you let it cool properly. For at least an hour, you shouldn’t think about cutting into the pie at all or else it will deflate. Place it on the cooling rack after taking it out of the oven. Do make sure that the air can properly circulate the pan from above and below. Eggs begin to release moisture if you touch the meringue as it cools. This causes the pie to sag instead of having a fluffy meringue and crispy crust.
In case you don’t have a proper baking rack, you can also set the pie on a heat-resistant pot holder. This will ensure that your pie will cool down properly, which won’t be possible on a warm countertop. After you are done cooling the pie at room temperature, you will need to place it in the refrigerator for at least 3 to 6 hours. Lemon meringue pie needs to be chilled before you can serve it, which is why it is important that you place the pie in the fridge without covering it.
A lot of people also do not pay too much attention to where they place the pie in the fridge, which can lead to their downfall. It is vital that you place the pie on the top shelf of the fridge to prevent any items from dripping or spilling onto the pie.
After the pie has cooled down properly, you should cut it with a wet knife so that it doesn’t stick to the curd and meringue. On a humid day, the meringue will begin to produce water after you remove it from the fridge. This is normal, which means you can cut and serve the pie without worrying about the extra moisture.
Make sure that you don’t store the pie outside of the fridge for more than 2 hours at a time. You should return the remaining pieces to the fridge after serving it. This will ensure that there is no bacteria
growth on the pie, which will definitely happen if you leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours. Leaving it out can result in food-borne illnesses, which is why it is better to throw the remaining pie away if it has been sitting out.
Storing Lemon Meringue Pie (Long-Term)
If you plan on refrigerating the pie for less than 6 hours, then it is better to avoid putting plastic foil or wrap around the pie. A lot of times the plastic wrap can crush the meringue. This can cause the eggs to release moisture and get running. This is known as ‘weeping’. There are some ways that you can avoid the pie from weeping.
The meringue peaks need to look glossy, but if they turn matte, then it can mean that you have over beaten the mixture. In such a case you may want to pile the meringue over the pie so that it touches the edges of the crust completely. While warming the meringue in the double boiler, you can also add a teaspoon of cornstarch. Cornstarch is really great for moisture absorption and prevents weeping. Even when the pie is stored in the fridge, this will help to preserve the meringue for a longer period.
Lemon pies can actually be frozen up to three months if you don’t add the meringue. You can wrap up the pie according to the instructions below if you want to store it for a longer period of time. The meringue topping can be added right before serving the pie after it has thawed. You also need to let the meringue cool down before topping the pie with it. If both the pie and topping isn’t at room temperature, it can cause a small pool of water to form in the lemon filling.
If you want to store the lemon meringue pie for a relatively long time, there are some measures that you can take. You will need to insert three toothpicks into the pie so they can support the plastic wrap. Push them in about halfway between the crust and the center, so they stick a half inches above the topping. Insert them in the form of a triangle shape so that the whole pie is protected when you add the plastic wrap to cover it.
If the plastic wrap is too close to the meringue, the water and eggs will make the pie release water and weep. If you have a really large pie, then you may need to use more than 4 to 5 toothpicks to make sure that the plastic wrap doesn’t harm the pie.
Cut out a pie of plastic wrap and drag it over the toothpicks and pie. You can transfer the pie from the pan to a plate or leave it in the pan, but the cling wrap needs to be big enough to cover the whole pie. Make sure the toothpicks don’t puncture the plastic as you work it or else it will let in the humid air. This will cause the pie to weep, which is why it is important to get another piece if you accidentally puncture the first one. Fold the edges of the plastic around the plate or the outside of the pan.
With plastic wrap, you can store the pie in the fridge for up to 3 days. While transferring the pie to the fridge, you need to be careful not to pull on the plastic wrap or else it can puncture. Place the pie on the top shelf and replace the plastic wrap with a new one after 2 days.
It is vital to understand that you can’t freeze lemon meringue pies at any point. Meringues are made with sugar and eggs, which means that they won’t freeze well. Meringue can become crunchy or flat if you put it in the freezer for too long. This will ruin the taste and texture of the pie since the meringue will break down under the cold temperature.
If you do want to prepare and store the crust and lemon filling in the freezer, you must do it without the meringue. You can store it in the freeze, and bake it as you would normally. Add the meringue when you are about to serve it.
Preserving the Meringue
There are also some steps that you can take to ensure that the meringue lasts for a longer period. It is recommended to add the meringue to the pie after you take the pie out of the oven and it has cooled down for 10 minutes. While the crust and lemon filling are baking in the oven, you take your time preparing the meringue properly. If you wait for the pie to cool down for 10 minutes before adding the meringue, it will prevent any over-baking. The heat from the pie should be enough to cool the meringue, ensuring that it doesn’t weep or shrink.
Do make sure that you spread the meringue properly across the pie so that it touches the edges of the crust. You can use a spatula or a spoon to distribute the topping over the pie properly. The meringue needs to be slightly pressed down around the edges so that it is touching the crust properly. This will seal the meringue in, which will prevent it from weeping down the crust.
It is important to make sure that you are gentle with this process since pushing the spoon may result in the lemon filling and meringue mixing during baking. If it mixes, it will ruin the taste of the pie.
It is also essential to make sure that the pie doesn’t over-bake in the oven. Pull the meringue out of the oven at once when the minimum baking time is reached. If it’s done, then it needs to cool and chill properly. On the other hand, if it isn’t cooked then cook it for rounds of 2 minutes until it is done. A cooked meringue is still soft and fluffy, but the tips have a slightly brown tint to it. When you take the pie out of the oven and see beads of moisture, then pull it out of the oven at once.
After reading about how to properly store a Meringue pie, you don’t have to worry anymore about any of it going to waste. Just use the method that fits your situation and enjoy a fresh piece of your favorite pie any time that you want to.