Do you love the kudos you get for homemade pies, but hate the too-dark edges on the crust? These strip shields are much easier to use than aluminum foil, and you can re-use them for the rest of your life.
These Ekco Pie Crust Shields are lightweight, fluted strips of aluminum, pre-formed into quarter-segments of a 9" circle. Therefore, they fit best on 9" pie plates, but I use them all the time on my 10" pies, and by using five of the strips, and overlapping, they work fine. There are small tabs to grasp for easy placement and removal.
The whole idea is to keep the edge of the crust covered from the full heat of the oven for most, or all, of the baking time. This keeps the crust from burning or even getting too dark. I found a long forum discussion on the merits of foil vs. shields at Chowhound. Apparently many people prefer foil, but I have a terrible time getting foil to stay where I want it. I’m also rather obsessive about one-time uses of things, so I hate to make new strips every time, even if I can recycle the foil afterwards. So, I’ve been really happy with these reusable shields.
I’ve also tried the shields that are a full circle of aluminum, with the middle cut out. These have to fit the pie pan very precisely. I almost always use 10" Pyrex pie plates, and the circular ones I’ve tried were not a good fit. On the other hand, these segmented shields can adapt to almost any round pie tin.
How to use the pie crust shields
After you make your pie, just lay these strips around the edge of the pan. No problem if they overlap. They can even be laid on thick, pinched, decorative crust edges. Although they are very light (0.2 ounces each), they are heavier than aluminum foil, so they stay where you put them. I usually leave them on for the entire baking time, but they could be removed for the last 10 minutes if you think the crust isn’t browning nicely.
How to clean the pie crust shields
If you have a dishwasher, just put these in with the silverware. You do have to be a little cautious to not bend them, but they don’t fold at the slightest touch, so I’ve never found this to be a problem. It is a little harder to keep them really clean if you wash dishes by hand, because they will bend if you are too rough. However, a little soaking and a scrub brush do a pretty good job of cleaning out those flutes (accordion pleats).
How to store the pie crust shields
One of the complaints on the forum was that these bend easily in a drawer. I keep mine in a quart ziplock bag in a drawer full of baking odds and ends. I do tend to keep them near the top of the pile, rather than at the bottom, but I haven’t fussed over them, and don’t have a single bent one after probably 25 years of ownership. If they are stacked into one or two piles before storage there is more strength to the pile than in single strips jumbled together.
They can fall off easier than a full-circle crust shield. They are lightweight- a little delicate. Both of these are offset in my mind by their versatility.
I’ve owned twelve of these Ekco Pie Crust Shields for... ever, so I can make two 10" pies at the same time. Each set now has five segments, so there are enough in each package for a large pie. When I bought these, there were four in a package. In fact, I can’t remember where I got these, but they are currently available at Amazon. It looks like you get 3 sets (15 shields) for the price, but their description could be better so I'm not positive about that.
If you don’t like to fiddle with strips of aluminum foil, I think these are versatile and ideal.