I find that homemade pie fillings are always the best fillings, but there are some good, gourmet pie fillings out there these days and I like to keep my options open by giving them a try. These gourmet pie fillings can be good when you need a filling fast, but they’re even better for dishes, like quick fruit cobblers, and ice cream sundae or oatmeal toppings. If you get a good one, with high quality ingredients, they can definitely be worth it. Over the holidays, I tried Trader Joe’s Apple Pie Filling and recently picked up these Streamline Fruit Toppings & Fillings in Apple & Cherry. These carton-packed fruit fillings are imported from Denmark (I picked them up at Cost Plus World Market) and they’re made with all natural ingredients, with lots of real fruit. The most appealing thing about them was that the ingredient list only had things that you would put into a real pie filling: fruit, sugar, thickening agent (pectin, though I typically use cornstarch or flour in my pies) and a little citric acid.
The apple pie filling was good, but didn’t have quite enough large pieces of apple in it to make it a favorite of mine. It was not too sweet with a great apple flavor and no spices to cover up that real fruit. You could really tell that they opted for tart Granny Smith-type apples when making it, which made it seem very fresh. I could see using it as a topping for oatmeal or ice cream, but it simply needed more pieces of apple to make it into one of my apple pies, even though the flavor was good.
The cherry pie filling, on the other hand, was very good and had plenty of cherries it in (50% cherries, by weight). The cherries were also not too sweet, and had a dark black cherry flavor. The syrup that accompanied the cherries was silky smooth with a nice consistency. Again, I liked the fact that no extra spices or flavors were added so that the filling tasted very fresh. I’d definitely consider this one for a pie filling or keeping a few in the pantry for an easy-to-make fruit crisp.