Thursday, September 6, 2012

Simple Ways to Preserve Fruit


This time of year the fruit is falling off the trees and many people wonder how they can preserve it. A lot of fresh fruit ends up rotting. Maybe this is part of nature's grand design to add compost to the soil surrounding the roots? I don't know, but this time of year is very busy for most folks who have fruit trees and berry bushes. There are a few simple methods you can utilize to quickly preserve fruit.

We freeze much of our fruit in a extra freezer in our garage. Though this might not be the most energy efficient way, it is fairly easy and quick as long as you have an extra freezer. Dehydrating is probably the safest way because you don't need to worry about losing a whole freezer full of food if your power goes out for an extended period of time, plus it requires little energy. Canning is another method but much of the nutrients and enzymes are destroyed through the heating process. I wrote a whole chapter about preserving the harvest in our new cookbook, Nourishing Meals, if you want to learn more. Plus there are recipes in that chapter for vinegars, lacto-fermented vegetables, and sauces like Cayenne Hot Sauce!



Freezing Fruit

Peaches, Plums, and Nectarines: Cut in half, remove the pits, place into a single layer in a container. Add a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of the first layer, then add a second layer. Cover with a lid and freeze.

Cherries: Pit and freeze in a container.

Blueberries: If there is a lot of debris mixed in with the berries (happens when my kids pick), then pour the berries into a large bowl and fill with water; swirl the berries around and the debris will float to the top. Carefully pour off the top layer of water then drain off the rest of the water through a colander. Pour berries into a container and freeze.

Blackberries and Raspberries: Place into a container and freeze.

Strawberries: Hull berries then place into a container and freeze.

Pears: Core and cut into the largest pieces possible. Place into a single layer in a container. Add a piece of parchment or waxed paper on top of the first layer, then add a second layer. Cover with a lid and freeze.

Blueberry-Honey Jam

Canning

Like I said, I don't can fruit except for applesauce and jam.

Homemade Applesauce

Homemade Honey-Sweetened Jam

Helping mama pick berries.

Dehydrating

You can dehydrate almost any fruit! Use this handy chart from Excalibur to know how long to dry each type of fruit. You can also make fruit leathers by pureeing the fresh fruit and then pouring the puree into Teflex sheets in your dehydrator.

Apples, Pears, Peaches: Pit or core, cut into 1/4-inch thick slices and place into your dehydrator at 115 to 135 degrees F. Dehydrate until leathery. I usually begin at 145 degrees F for a few hours and then turn it down to 115 degrees F until done.

Italian Plums: Cut in half, remove the pits, place into a single layer on your dehydrator sheets. Dehydrate for 2 days (timing depends on the size and juiciness of the plums). Store in a glass jar in your pantry or another cool, dark place.

Cherries: Pit and cut in half. Place into the dehydrator. Larger cherries can take about 2 full days to fully dehydrate.

Blueberries: Place into your dehydrator. Turn to 145 degrees for about 2 hours then reduce to 115 degrees for about 15 hours or until done.

My daughter's backyard harvest the other day.

Other Methods

Juicing! The other day I heard of juicing to preserve fruit. You can run the fruit through your juicer and then can or freeze the juice. I have not done this but what a great idea!!

Refrigeration: Freshly picked apples can last for months in your refrigerator (early season varieties tend to only last a few weeks, while heartier, later season varieties can last for 3 or more months).

What do you do to preserve fruit? Have any great tips or tricks to share? Please leave a comment, thanks! :)


15 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips! I'm definitely going to be making lots of jam and applesauce this fall. Question about canning, I don't have a canner, but can I use just a pot of water and tongs or is there something special that I need to do?

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  2. Thanks for the great info!!! I don't have an extra fridge/freezer, nor a dehydrator, but I have an oven!!!

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  3. This is a perfect post because I just cut up a bunch of plums that came in my Full Circle CSA and didn't know what I wanted to do with them. Thanks so much!

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  4. Thank you so much for posting this--it's so helpful to read your method! I am going to freeze some peaches while I can.

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  5. I love your blog and cookbook, can't wait to get the new one. I'm on day 22 of the e-diet and am feeling better than I have in years. Thank you!!!

    I'm wondering about uses for frozen fruit. Other than smoothies, what else can we use frozen fruit for?

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  6. What a great way and so easy to preserve fruit. Thank you for sharing. I will have an abundance of pears soon that will need some tending to and this is the perfect solution.

    ~Cinnamon

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  7. I usually freeze berries on a cookie sheet, then put them in plastic bags after they're frozen.

    I like your method for stone fruit.

    Kristin: use frozen fruit for baked goods like crisps or cobblers, make a sauce for ice cream or yogurt, put frozen berries in muffins....make sorbet or gelato or ice cream...

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  8. To Queen of Quinoa...I didn't have a canner til last year. I just sterilized the jars in my dishwasher, prepared whatever I was going to put in them, leave half an inch headspace, seal, then I used a TALL pot. Place jars in & cover with water & boil for 15-20 minutes. It's a pain to remove them though. A canner is great, because they're easier to remove with the wire thingy that comes with. You'll need to make sure you have enuf jars in there packed tight, otherwise they might float around. Good luck!

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  9. I always like to use a cookie sheet to freeze those fruits that like to stick together when frozen. And then I put it in a zip-lock and put in the freezer.

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  10. Great tips! I love to store fruits at home, I just love that I have always something healthy at home to it so I store much. But sometimes because i fail to eat it, it just gets rotten. I'm glad I've read your post here, its very helpful. Thank you. It's amazing you have your own garden at home. I've wanted to have one.

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  11. Thank you thank you, was wondering what you guys do to preserve fruit! I'm not the biggest fan of canning either and like you do jam and applesauce. My husbands cans salsa.

    Freezing is my favorite method, but you make a great point with the risk of power loss! I'll need to dehydrate some more these next couple weeks (freezer is filling up anyway).

    Seems no matter how much we preserve we always run out before things come back in season, does that happen to you guys? If so what do you do?

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  12. What brand/kind of fruit dehydrator is good and moderately priced?

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  13. Great post, Ali!

    How wonderful to have such a beautiful garden in your backyard. So special to be able to teach the kiddos about where food comes from.

    Piano chick, I have the Nesco dehydrator ($49 at amazon) that I have had for a few years. I know half a dozen other bloggers that have the same one and are happy with it. something to hold you over while saving for the Excalibur (Cadillac )!

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  14. I have juiced apple or pears and froze in 1 quart containers. I have also taken 1 1/2 gallons of juice and boiled it down to make a glace (gla-zey). You don't want to burn it. Right before it completely caramelizes, dip your spoon in and if it coats the spoon without running off, its done. It happens quickly at the end. So don't burn it. You have to stir continuously at the end to prevent burning. It has the most amazing taste. It is the "essence" of the fruit. A concentrate. while you are cooking it down (it can take over an hour) Sterilize 1 cup glass mason jars and pour it in. Use on pancakes, waffles, sauces...it is divine.

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  15. I just read Real Food Fermenting by Alex Lewin who has a recipe for fermented peach and plum chutney. He does use whey as a starter though, I'm trying that next year to see how long it keeps and different variations. I also put up preserves and some sliced fruit in a thin syrup just to tide us over, it's nice to have a nectarine or plum crisp in the middle of winter and know where the fruit came from and how little sugar is in it even if some of the vitamins and enzymes are gone. I like to defrost and keep 2 cups of berries in the fridge throughout the week to stir into yogurt or add to a fruit salad or muffins/loafs, pancakes. The kids "sneak" and eat them just like that though and think they're getting away with something!

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