How to Keep a Meringue Pie from Weeping
Nothing transforms a humble-looking pie into a stunning work of art better than a towering topping of glossy, snow white meringue. And nothing is more frustrating to a pie baker than when that meringue “weeps.”
Weeping is when brownish beads of liquid appear all over the surface of a meringue, or a when a layer of moisture pools and separates the top of the pie filling from the base of the meringue. Either way, it’s not good. But it’s no reason to skip the meringue altogether. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do to prevent this from happening to your favorite lemon meringue or chocolate pie.
1. Choose a dry day
Humid or wet weather can cause the sugar in the meringue to absorb extra moisture in the air and turns sticky, or form small syrupy beads. If you can, choose a dry, sunny day to make a meringue. Let it cool completely before slicing and serving. And avoid storing the pie in the refrigerator—a very humid place—more than a day in advance.
2. Try a Swiss or Italian meringue
A meringue is made of egg whites and sugar whipped together until they are billowy and smooth. Some recipes, like Italian or Swiss meringue call for whisking hot sugar syrup into the egg whites, which makes a fluffy, stable meringue that doesn’t need to be baked in the oven (the hot syrup takes care of that). A French meringue is made with egg whites and sugar beaten until light and airy, then baked in the oven. Some recipes call for a small amount of cream of tartar or cornstarch, which helps stabilize the meringue and prevent it from deflating.
3. Make sure the pie filling is hot
One of the most popular pieces of advice for making a meringue-topped pie is to make sure the pie filling is piping hot when you top it with meringue. The steam from the filling will rise up and pass through the meringue, which prevents liquid from pooling underneath. As the pie finishes baking in the oven, remove it when the meringue turns light brown and don’t overcook it, which can also cause weeping.
4. If all else fails, use a paper towel
If your meringue does weep, you can try to absorb some of the moisture by gently blotting it with a paper towel.