The summer fresh fruits are still in season and many of them are here through September. To preserve those wonderful summer fresh tastes of these fruits here are some recipes on how to “put them up.” I like to freeze some of the fresh fruits like peaches, nectarines, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries (hull first and slice large strawberries in half ). These fruits maintain their nutrients when frozen and can be expensive when purchased out of season.
To freeze berries, wash berries and pat dry, spread on baking sheets without touching each other. Store frozen berries in an airtight plastic container or freezer bag for 3-4 months. Sliced bananas can also be frozen and stored in plastic containers or bags.
Select fruit of good quality that are ripe, but firm with rich coloring. Freezing will retain the quality of fruit but not improve it. Freeze fruit as soon as possible, the fresher, the better the taste when thawed. Use Ever-Fresh or Fresh Fruit or lemon juice to retain the color, protect flavor and prevent browning of the fruit.
Freeze grapes for a refreshing snack. They taste great and make a healthy snack, they are low in calories, are fat free and are a wonderful alternative for sweets. Be sure to purchase seedless grapes for freezing – red, black or green grapes may be used. Wash, de-stem, and pat grapes dry with paper towels. Lay grapes in a single layer on a baking sheet and freeze, place in freezer containers or bags. These grapes can be eaten frozen or thawed for a few minutes. Grapes will replace fresh grape recipes. They retain their intense color and flavor and hold their shape when thawed.
When the winter months are here pull out a bag of frozen fruit and thaw in the refrigerator for 2-3 hours or place sealed bag in a bowl of warm water for about 20 minutes. Use in your favorite recipe, fresh or cooked, and enjoy the summer-time flavor. Frozen fruits can be used in smoothies, pies, tarts, sauces (add liqueur or citrus zest and stir in 1-tablespoon of cornstarch with sugar for a thicker sauce), turnovers, and/or salads.
Easy Freezing Fresh Peaches
(Yellow or white peaches, both work well. I like to use free stone.)
8 quarts of fresh ripe peaches, sliced ( with or without skins)
8 1-quart freezer bags
8 tablespoons Fruit Fresh
**** If you prefer skinless peaches, dunk peaches in boiling water for 30 seconds, remove, place in ice water and quickly remove skins, then follow procedure above. You may also peel peaches with a paring knife if you prefer.
Freezing Fresh Nectarines
Follow the same procedure as for fresh peaches, make sure to label the freezer bags “nectarines”. Use Fresh Fruit or another preservative.
Freezing Fresh Apricots
Follow the same procedure as for peaches. Use Fresh Fruit or another preservative.
Freezing Fresh Red Bing Cherries
Follow the same procedure as for peaches, but remove pits by cutting a slice on one side and removing the pit. Use Fresh Fruit or another preservative.
Freezing Fresh Plums
Follow the same procedure as for peaches. Use freestone plums, cut in half and remove pit. Use Fresh Fruit or another preservative.
Simple Fresh Peach Sauce
8 large fresh or frozen, ripe peaches, peeled and chopped into ½ (one half) inch chunks
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon butter
2 tablespoons Fresh Fruit or lemon juice
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon (Optional)
Peel peaches by dunking in boiling water for 30 seconds then placing in ice water. Peel skins off immediately. Cut into ½ (one half) inch chunks and pour into a large saucepan. Add sugar and butter, stir then cook over medium heat until just boiling, boil for one minute. Add Fresh Fruit or lemon juice, mash with a potato masher, stir and pour into either pint or quart jars with screw-on covers. Wipe jars clean and let cool for 1-2 hours then refrigerate.
Helpful Hint: For a thicker sauce add 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch when cooking sauce.
**** Sauce is great on ice cream or pound cake. Mix sauce with some mustard and herbs and use with cooked chicken. Or add some of your favorite barbecue sauce. Great with pork.
Helpful Hint: This recipe is good for nectarines, blueberries and strawberries also.
Dried Peach Fruit Roll-ups
5-6 medium peaches or nectarines, peeled, chopped then pureed
¾ (three fourths) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
Use non-stick foil to line a 12 by 17 inch rimmed baking sheet. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
Puree peeled fruit in a blender or food processor until smooth and pour into a saucepan, add sugar and lemon juice, stir. Cook over medium heat, stirring continuously until most of the liquid evaporates and mixture is very thick, about 35 to 40 minutes. Be careful of mixture which is very hot and may splatter.
Spread the cooked fruit mixture over the foil in prepared baking sheet, with a spatula. Spread hot mixture in a thin layer evenly to edges of pan. Bake in oven until barely tacky about 3 hours or so.
Place the baking sheet on a wire rack and let the fruit cool completely. Peel fruit sheet off foil. If the fruit sheet is still moist on the bottom side, return to the oven, moist side up, until dry, about another 15-20 minutes. Remove and cool completely. Using kitchen scissors to cut it into 2-inch strips. Store in zip-top bags for 1-2 weeks. Makes a tasty snack.
Nectarine Salad with Crispy Bacon
6-8 cups ½ (one half) inch sliced frozen or fresh nectarines
6 slices thick bacon, crisply cooked and crumbled
6 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons fresh oregano or thyme, coarsely chopped
In a small bowl whisk together vinegar and honey, making a simple glaze. Set aside. In a serving bowl toss together nectarine slices and oregano or thyme, sprinkle with bacon bits and toss gently to mix. Drizzle with balsamic glaze to taste. Serve immediately.
8 fresh ripe large, purple plums, pitted
8 fresh or frozen, ripe apricots or 4-peaches
½ (one half) cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small cubes
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ (one fourth) cup heavy whipping cream, reserve 1-tablespoon
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Cut plums and apricots or peaches into 2-inch chunks, place in a 2-quart baking dish. Sprinkle ½ (one half) cup sugar over fruit, then toss fruit with cornstarch until well blended. Sprinkle with lemon juice and toss gently. Set aside.
In a bowl whisk together flour, 2-tablespoons sugar, cinnamon and baking powder, cut in cold butter with 2 knives or a pastry cutter, until crumbly. Add cream (reserve 1-tablespoon) and mix through thoroughly forming a soft dough. Roll dough out on lightly floured board until the size and shape of the baking dish. Cover fruit mixture bringing dough to the edges of dish, tucking in any edges that stick out. Brush top of pastry with 1-tablespoon cream and sprinkle with 1-tablespoon sugar. Make 4-6 small cuts in the top of pastry to let steam escape.
Place cobbler in oven and lower heat to 350 degrees. Bake for about 35-40 minutes until cobbler is a golden brown and fruit is bubbling around edges. Serve with ice cream or whipped cream.
Hope Cusick has won awards at the North Carolina Strawberry Festival in 2012; The North Carolina Blueberry Festival, winning first place for her Blueberry Cheese Danish Pastry in 2012, and placing on her blueberry spinach salad and dressing; and has won various other contest awards for her blueberry cheesecake, breads, cookies, brownies and jams. She resides in Hampstead.