Monday, June 20, 2016

Trader Joe's Cherry Pie Filling; Trader Joe's Pie Crusts; Trader Joe's Whipping Cream

Today we bring you not one, not two, but three product reviews in one post. This is the 23rd--and final--consecutive day of reviewing new products. 

I made a pie.

Now, that might not seem like much of a brag, but it is. You see, I've lived just over 55 years on this planet, and I could never have said that before last week.

To be sure, what I mean by "I made a pie" is that I bought pre-made pie crusts, and dumped in a jar of pre-made pie filling. Yet it remains true that I made a pie! 

The cherry pie filling is a brand-new product; see here for the company's description of it. Of course it would do no good to buy that alone, so I decided it was a golden opportunity to also try TJ's frozen pie crusts.

Let's start with the crusts. This foodie web site last year did a comparison of seven brands of frozen pie crusts, and TJ's was judged the best. All the others come pre-shaped. TJ's crusts come rolled up. You thaw them, unroll them, and place them in your own pie dish; you're not stuck using the disposable aluminum ones that come with the other brands.

And yes, I actually did have a decent Pyrex pie dish on hand, in which I occasionally make one of my favorite things, this rice and tuna pie (omitting the onion to avoid being poisoned by it, obviously).

As the comparison test notes, the downside of TJ's pan-less method of packaging is that the delicate crusts inevitably tear in several spots as you're putting them in place. You have to do a fair amount of mending of these tears.

The result, though, is something that genuinely could pass for made-from-scratch:

And here's how it looks right out of the oven:

The crusts taste great. I've always been one to leave uneaten the edge of the crust after all the filled part of my slice of pie is gone. I didn't here; it was good enough to eat even with no cherries left. Even more miraculous, the crust didn't go soggy after sitting unrefrigerated for the three days that it took me to finish it off. 

The filling: I liked the taste of both the cherries and the sauce well enough. Not the best I've ever had, but passable. However, it's not nearly thick enough. With the first piece of pie removed, the guts just completely gushed out. Admittedly, I had not let it cool enough. But even later, at true room temperature, it was just too runny. The last couple of slices of pie were sadly collapsed, with almost nothing left in them. I suppose if I had kept it in the refrigerator, that would have been less of a problem, but I think pie is better not chilled. Yes, I know I could keep it chilled, then zap each slice before eating. If I ever try this again, that's probably what I'll do. 

The whipping cream: I did not know what to expect. I was totally ignorant of the different kinds of cream available. I bought this only because my local TJ's had cleverly placed a bunch of the little boxes right next to the big display of jars of the cherry pie filling. I didn't really grasp that it would involve a lot of, you know, whipping. This was especially problematic because I don't own a mixer. Nina and I had to take turns going at it with a manual egg-beater. This is not ideal. Also not ideal: I had no powdered sugar with which to sweeten it. (How is a bachelor supposed to know these things?) 

So the whipping cream was kind of a fail. Had I understood what I was getting into, I would have just picked up some Cool Whip at another store instead. 

But all the little problems aside, allow me to reiterate: I made a pie! 

Will I buy it again? 

The crusts are good enough that I can't see myself ever attempting to make a pie without them. I liked the taste of the filling enough that I would give it a second chance, knowing that I'd have to make accommodations for its runniness. I'll pass on the whipping cream. 

Nina's View

Pie crust = very good.

Cherry pie filling = NOT very good. Too sweet, too soupy, not enough actual cherry flavor.

Whipping cream = nothing a little cream of tartar and some powdered sugar couldn't have rendered ideal. 

I will DEFINITELY use the pie crusts one of these days.


  1. Congratulations you made a pie!! Although it doesn't sound like the cherry filling worked out that great... You can use the crust for a galette- basically toss fresh berries with a little sugar and lemon juice, pile in the center and roughly fold up the edges and bake.

  2. What's the Nina take on the filling? I'm missing fresh Montmorency cherries this year so had been pleased to see the product listing, tho concerned they might have sweetened it too much. Thanks for reviewing!

  3. How's that for a weird illustration on the filling? Where did TJ's find a pie tin with a right-angled edge? I'm no mathematician, but how would that work?

  4. I'm not sure, but it must have something to do with the fact that pie are squared.