Doubling or tripling a recipe for pie crust and freezing the extra pie shells - baked or unbaked - can save time in the kitchen, said Karen Blakeslee, Kansas State University Research and Extension Rapid Response Center Coordinator. Blakeslee, who spends her working hours answering food and food safety questions, said a baked pie crust can be frozen up to four months and an unbaked one up to two months.
She offered these additional tips:
To freeze baked pie shells, prepare pastry dough according to recipe directions. Bake unfilled and cool completely. Leaving the cooked shells in their pie pan to prevent damage, seal in a freezer bag or food storage container that you label and date. When needed for use, thaw in the freezer bag or container at room temperature.
To freeze unbaked pie shells, prepare dough for pan, including trimming and fluting the edges and pricking the shell with a fork. Seal the pastry-lined pan in a labeled freezer bag or container. To conserve space, place a layer of freezer paper between pie pans and stack the shells. To use, bake frozen at 475 degrees F until golden brown, or fill and bake according to recipe directions.
"Freezing a complete pie can result in a soggy crust," Blakeslee warned.
Her advice: Prepare fruit fillings with instant tapioca and then freeze them separately. To cook, place frozen filling in a frozen pie shell and bake at 450 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake 20-30 minutes until the crust is golden brown and the fruit mixture is bubbly. "Making pastry is a skill that improves with experience," Blakeslee said. "With pie shells ready to go, though, preparing a main-dish quiche or a fruit or custard pie is easy."