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How do you like your strawberries?

There are so many things to do with a fresh flat of Louisiana strawberries. Slice them, and let them soak in sugar. Wash them, and eat them right over the sink. Cook them down, and add them to a flaky pie crust.

No matter how you use them, strawberries are the perfect spring fruit.

A few years back, I found this recipe for a strawberry pie without using a jello packet. The original recipe on inspiredtaste.net called for almond extract, which I left out. It’s simple, quick, and absolutely delicious. I shared it with my Country Roads family over an office lunch a few springs ago, and I watched several coworkers fight over who got to lick the spatula after the pie was gone.

Fresh Strawberry Pie

Chilled pie dough

5 cups strawberries, chopped

1/4 cup cornstarch

2/3 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Juice of lemon

1 egg yolk

1 tablespoon cream

Whipped cream, optional topping

Roll out pie dough to fit the pie dish. Gently press dough down into the dish so that it lines the bottom and sides of the dish. Fold edges of dough underneath itself, creating a thicker, 1/4-inch border that rests on the lip of the dish. Then, crimp edges.

Heat oven to 425 degrees, and place a baking sheet on a middle oven rack. Pierce the bottom of the crust with a fork. Line the crust with two sheets of aluminum foil.  Then, fill foil with dried rice, dried beans, or pie weights. Refrigerate 30 minutes, freeze for 10 minutes, or until firm to the touch.

Place pie crust onto preheated baking sheet and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the crust is golden. Make egg wash by whisking egg yolk and cream in a small bowl. Then, remove rice, beans, or weights and foil from pie crust. Brush bottom and sides of crust with egg wash. Bake until egg wash is dry and shiny, 3 to 5 minutes. Cool crust completely before filling.

Add 2 cups of strawberries to a small saucepan. Mash strawberries until chunky. Add sugar, corn starch, vanilla extract, lemon juice, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until sugar dissolves and glaze has thickened. Cool completely. Combine remaining 3 cups of strawberries with cooled strawberry glaze. Stir until strawberries are well coated. Spoon strawberry filling into cooled pie crust. Refrigerate overnight and top with whipped cream before serving.

Jennie Guido is a community columnist for The Natchez Democrat. You may reach her at guido.jennie@gmail.com.

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