Lemon meringue pie is a classic dessert consisting of a shortcrust pastry crust, a lemon curd filling, and a pillowy meringue topping.
The dessert is not the most simple to make, so you can freeze it ahead of time to reduce dinner party stress.
Lemon meringue pie dates back to medieval times, although the modern iteration is often attributed to a religious group called the Quakers in the late 18th century.
In 1806, this recipe was adapted by a pastry chef from Philadelphia called Elizabeth Coane Goodfellow.
Lemon meringue pie will remain safe to eat in the refrigerator for up to 5 days if stored and covered correctly.
If you follow our tips carefully, lemon meringue pie can be frozen safely for up to 3 months.
How to freeze lemon meringue pie
If you are making your own lemon meringue pie from scratch, we recommend leaving off the meringue topping. Meringue does not freeze well and the texture after thawing is likely to be less than desirable. Allow to cool completely before attempting to begin the freezing process.
If you are trying to freeze a storebought pie, we advise separating the meringue topping from the crust. Using an offset spatula or fish slice, place the edge on the top of the crust’s lip, underneath the meringue layer.
Spin the pie around, using the spatula to prise the meringue off of the set curd underneath. Using a large fish slice, gently lift the meringue off the pie and discard or set aside to eat later.
Place the crust filled with lemon curd inside a baking dish. Place in the freezer for a few hours, until it has frozen solid. Remove from the freezer and wrap in multiple layers of plastic wrap. Ensure that you have covered the entirety of the crust. This will help to prevent freezer burn forming.
Place the wrapped pie crust in a large freezer-safe airtight container. Label with the contents and the freezing date before returning to the freezer.
To freeze individual portions of lemon meringue pie, cut into slices and place them on a plate in the freezer. Leave for around 2 hours until they have completely frozen. Remove from the plate and place in a freezer-safe container. Label and return to the freezer to cool.
How to defrost lemon meringue pie
To defrost lemon meringue pie, remove from the freezer and place it on a plate in the refrigerator a few hours before you want to consume.
When this is close to defrosting, begin to make your meringue topping. Pipe or dollop onto the pie crust, and caramelize under the broiler for 3-5 minutes.
There are 3 main types of meringue: Italian, Swiss, and French. Italian meringue is formed by whisking hot sugar syrup ~(around 240 degrees Fahrenheit) into beaten egg whites.
The egg whites should be whisked with the juice of half a lemon until soft peaks form. Add in the sugar syrup at a steady pace and whisk until you reach the desired consistency. This is the most common meringue type.
Swiss meringue is usually used as a base for buttercream fillings. This is made by placing a bowl of egg whites and sugar in a bain-marie. This is a glass bowl placed over a pot of boiling water. It heats the contents of the bowl gently using the steam the water emits.
This mixture should be whisked constantly until the sugar granules have dissolved. Rub a little between your fingers to ensure it has fully dissolved. Transfer the meringue mixture to a standing mixer and whip to fluffy peaks.
To make French meringue, whisk egg whites in a clean bowl with a few drops of lemon juice until they reach soft peaks. Slowly begin to whisk in the sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff peaks form.
You should be able to invert the bowl over your head with nothing spilling.
Factors to consider before freezing lemon meringue pie
If you do not allow the pie to cool fully before freezing, this could lead to condensation forming. This extra moisture could make the pie crust soggy or even lead to freezer burn forming and ruining your pie crust.
Ensure the curd has set firm and gelatinized before you try to remove the meringue. This will make your life much easier and give a cleaner finish.
We recommend freezing lemon meringue pie in a rigid airtight container as opposed to a ziplock freezer bag. This is because the pastry is delicate and can break easily if it is knocked or crushed in the freezer.
The solid structure of an airtight container will protect the sides of the pie crust from damage in the freezer.
We do not recommend freezing meringue as the structure of egg whites does not stand up well to the freezing process. If frozen, meringue often turns rubbery, soggy and develops a strange crust.
The flavor may also change. This is why we suggest freezing the pie naked and adding the meringue topping once thawed.
As with anything you freeze, the shorter time it is left in the freezer, the better the taste will be. Never refreeze thawed lemon meringue pie.
We do not recommend freezing a lemon meringue pie with the meringue layer. This is because the proteins in the egg white do not hold up well to freezing and can cause a chewy, rubbery texture to develop when thawed.
If you forget to leave it off or have a storebought pie, simply use an offset spatula to remove the meringue topping.
If you follow our tips correctly, you can store lemon meringue pie in the freezer for up to 3 months. You will always have a dinner party-ready dessert on hand and ready to go with minimal effort required.
You can also use these tips to freeze the leftover pie, to reduce your household’s food waste.
We hope that you now feel confident in freezing and storing lemon meringue pie.