Baking pies is considered to be a holiday tradition by many. No matter what you’re celebrating, it’s going to be nice to have a delicious pie that you can eat with your family.
Many of the tastiest pies call for a nice meringue topping. Making meringue might seem a bit tricky at first for beginners, though.
It’s easy to make little mistakes that will make the meringue turn out somewhat wrong. For example, you might notice that it’s weeping on top of the pie.
Why would the meringue weep this way? Read on to learn about the most likely causes.
What Is Weeping Meringue?
To ensure that there is no confusion, it’s important to understand what the term “weeping meringue” is referring to. When the meringue is weeping, that means that there is a moisture layer present between the meringue and the rest of the pie.
Essentially, you’ll notice that the pie will be a bit watery because of the weeping that is happening. This is an unfortunate thing to have happen to your pie.
This happens after you chill the pie, and it’s something that can make you a bit upset. You go to all of that effort to make it and then find out that the meringue is weeping.
It isn’t necessary to throw the pie out because it’ll probably still taste fine. The pie just won’t be perfect, and it’d be better if it didn’t have that watery element that is holding it back.
Now that you understand what weeping meringue is, it’s time to learn why this occurs. Later, you’ll get important tips about how to keep it from happening again.
What Causes Meringue Pies to Weep?
Weeping meringue is a problem that occurs due to undercooking or overcooking a pie. It’s very likely that you simply made a mistake by cooking the pie too much or too little.
When you cook meringue too much, it causes sugary moisture drops to appear. So long as you follow the recipe’s recommendations, you’ll likely be able to avoid cooking the meringue too much.
Always remember to use a timer and don’t stray too far from the oven when you’re waiting on the meringue to finish baking. So long as you’re on top of things, you’ll likely be just fine.
Undercooking is actually a more common cause of weeping meringue. It’s also dangerous to undercook things that contain eggs due to the risk of salmonella exposure.
Ideally, you should put your meringue on top of hot filling so that it can begin cooking right away. This makes it less likely that you’ll undercook the meringue.
When the pie is done baking, you want to store it properly. Take the time to cover the pie and then chill it so that it will look gorgeous and taste great.
If you do everything right, you shouldn’t have to deal with weeping meringue issues. Sometimes mistakes do happen, but you can do your best to try to prevent this from occurring.
Advice for Keeping Meringue From Weeping
Keeping the meringue from weeping will be easier if you approach the process in particular ways. You want to try to avoid unwanted moisture, and this involves being careful with how you prepare it.
When you’re beating the mixture to form the meringue, you want to try to stabilize the liquid by binding it to the egg whites and thickened cornstarch. Doing this correctly will prevent the liquid from seeping out.
You also want to ensure that you cook the filling on the top of the stove for a full two minutes. This gives the cornstarch the chance to thicken properly, and it should make it less likely that leaking will occur.
Spread the meringue out on the filling when it’s hot. When you do this, it heats up the underside of the meringue while it’s cooking on the top in the oven.
This combination will keep the meringue from turning out watery. You shouldn’t have to deal with runny liquid if you’re following this advice.
Another odd thing to keep in mind is that the humidity levels in your home can have an impact on the meringue. You might not think about things such as this under normal circumstances, but it could be an issue that will cause the meringue to weep.
If you’re living in a particularly humid part of the world, the high humidity could make it more likely that you’ll have to deal with weeping. This is why it’s recommended to only make meringue pies on days when it isn’t going to be so humid.
Granted, most people won’t have to deal with such high humidity that it will be impossible to bake meringue pies properly. It’s simply worth noting that it could be an issue if your home is very humid.
You could try to solve humidity issues in your home by purchasing a dehumidifier. This might be useful to you for many reasons if your home is so humid that it’s uncomfortable.
Undissolved Sugar Can Be Problematic
Something that you might not have thought about is that undissolved sugar can be problematic for the meringue. Sometimes you might make a mistake or two while stiffening the egg whites for the meringue, and this will wind up happening as a result.
It’s possible that undissolved sugar could be the direct cause of the weeping. Thankfully, you can keep this from happening by being careful about how you’re beating the egg whites.
You want to mix the egg whites and the sugar using a low speed setting on your mixer. Continue until the mixture feels smooth.
Use your fingers to check to see whether the mixture feels grainy. When the mixture is smooth, this will mean that all of the sugar has dissolved properly.
Some choose to make things easier by buying a type of sugar that dissolves easier. Superfine sugar will dissolve rather fast.
You can use caster sugar if you’d like as well since it will also dissolve quickly. Normal granulated sugar takes more time to dissolve, but there’s no reason why you can’t use it so long as you’re being thorough.
Seal the Meringue Completely
Sealing the meringue completely is an important thing to remember to do. If you don’t do this, it’ll be more likely that moisture will form between the meringue and the pie.
This means that you need to ensure that the meringue goes out to the edge of the pie. If the meringue doesn’t reach far enough, you won’t get good results.
Simply remember to put the right amount of meringue on top of the pie. This isn’t hard to accomplish, but people do make mistakes when they’re trying to rush.
Don’t go so fast that you don’t seal the meringue properly. Take enough time to do things right and your pies will be much more likely to turn out perfect.
Prepare the Meringue First
Don’t do the filling before you make the meringue. You want to spread the meringue onto the filling when it’s still hot.
This won’t be possible if you don’t have the meringue ready to go. When everything is set, you’ll want to spread the meringue onto the hot filling.
It helps the meringue to cook from the bottom while the oven cooks it from the top. It’ll be unlikely that you’ll encounter issues with weeping if you do things this way.
Most people try to time things out so that the filling and the meringue will be done around the same time. If you can do this, then that will be even better.
Those who have help in the kitchen might have the helper stir the pudding and heat everything up while they’re making the meringue. Either way, just know that you want to spread the meringue onto the hot filling and not cold filling.
You’ve learned a lot about why meringue pies might start weeping. Weeping pies might frustrate you, but you should be able to avoid having this happen in the future.
Now that you understand the potential causes, you’ll know what to avoid. Be sure that you cook the meringue for the right amount of time so that everything will go as it should.
Both undercooking and overcooking can cause meringue pies to weep. You’ll want to bake everything exactly as you should so that the pies will turn out deliciously.
It’s also imperative to look out for other issues. Extreme humidity problems might make it more likely for meringue to weep.
Not dissolving the sugar properly while preparing the meringue will lead to problems as well. Do your best to avoid situations like this and your pies will look great and taste even better.
Don’t hesitate to make a scrumptious meringue pie for your family this holiday season. You have the necessary knowledge to do a great job.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.