There’s a hot local bakery in Portland, Maine, that’s churning out hundreds of pies a week all year long but especially during the holiday season. At the top of the bakery’s popularity list is Wild Blueberry Pie. In fact, Two Fat Cats Bakery scoops out 210-pounds of frozen Maine Wild Blueberries a week into its delicious pies, scones, muffins, and cakes – that’s seven 30-pound boxes. “We make a batch of 10-15 blueberry pies a day,” says bakery owner Stacy Begin. “In the summer we can’t keep up with the demand.” We visited Two Fat Cats Bakery and chatted with Stacy about why she thinks Wild Blueberry Pie is hands-down her top-selling pie – no matter what the season! She also busts the myths about using frozen Wild Blueberries in pie making, shares some tips on how to use them and says it’s the only way to go to make the best Wild Blueberry Pie.
What’s behind the popularity?
Well, it’s a couple of things. People who come to Portland have heard so much about Maine Wild Blueberries and they want to try them. For tourists it’s on their to-do list, along with trying a whoopie pie and a lobster roll. Everyone loves Maine Wild Blueberries and Blueberry Pie never goes out of season – even over the holidays.
What makes the Wild Blueberry so distinctive?
Two things. First, is size. The Wild Blueberry is much smaller and this gives it a special quality. Second is taste – it’s sweeter and so different from a cultivated berry. I think people who know the story of the Wild Blueberry – how it’s native to Maine and how it’s grown and harvested – they understand that it’s a very intriguing and special berry.
Are frozen berries better for Wild Blueberry Pie?
Definitely. Frozen Wild Blueberries are more dependable because they were picked at the height of their ripeness, which preserves their great taste and texture. Not only that, but there are a couple of myths out there. One is that frozen fruit is not as good in a pie. This is just false. At Two Fast Cats, we always use frozen Wild Blueberries in our pie. A second mistake is that people allow the berries to thaw first. We never thaw the berries in advance.
So how do you make the pie?
- The trick is to use frozen Wild Blueberries and keep them frozen.
- Don’t thaw them out in advance.
- Pour your dry ingredients (sugar, thickener and spices) over the frozen berries and stir gently.
- Let everything sit for 15 minutes.
- While this mixture sits, the fruit starts to absorb the sugar and the thickener.
- The sugar will cling to the fruit and this is exactly what you want.
- Give it all a good stir.
- Then, pop everything into your pie shell and bake it.
What do people say about your pie?
What we usually hear is: “This is the best pie I have ever had.” I believe it’s not just due to our techniques or our recipes, I think it’s because a lot of people have never had the Maine Wild Blueberry and it’s so different than a cultivated berry pie. It’s an awakening to them. The blueberries are smaller, there lots of ‘em, so you get that delicious taste of the fruit.
Are there any special ingredients in your pie?
We make a very traditional Wild Blueberry Pie—and there is really no secret to the recipe. We just take the time to make it right. A pie can be time consuming and there is a temptation to take short cuts. If you really want a good pie, you have to put the time into it and use the very best ingredients.
Who buys your pies?
Well we all know that Mainers love their pie and we sell to a lot of local people. Tourists love them too and once they’ve tasted our Maine Wild Blueberry Pie, they want to visit again. For them, it’s like a taste of summer. We also sell to the Portland Lobster Company, which dishes up a ton of lobster and Blueberry Pie in the summertime.
Where do you get your berries?
We buy our Maine Wild Blueberries from Wyman’s and Allen’s, both are Maine growers with long histories. We get weekly deliveries of frozen berries throughout the year.
What are some favorite recipes that use Wild Blueberries?
We make a Bumbleberry Pie that uses local apples, rhubarb, raspberries, and Maine Wild Blueberries. This is also known as Heritage Pie – and it’s a recipe that people have made for generations. It’s traditionally made at the end of the season with whatever fruits people had left on hand from the summer.
Make your holiday complete with a Wild Blueberry pie from Two Fat Cats bakery or make your own using this delicious recipe! For other wild twists on traditional Thanksgiving side dishes take a look Danielle Omar’s recipes: Wild Blueberry Relish and Wild Blueberry Stuffing. Danielle is a registered dietitian, clean-eating coach, teacher and cookbook author and enjoys sharing plant-based recipes and nutrition strategies on her Food Confidence blog.