Monday, July 25, 2011

Preserving Fruits 1: Frozen Stone Fruits

Frozen Apricot Halves
Frosty Fresh-Frozen Apricots

Recipe by Debbie from Live Earth Farm

Next week is the middle of summer, and my thoughts turn to preserving the bounty of this time of year. I was talking with my sister Chris about the jam making class I took from Happy Girl Kitchens. She’s in the Southwest, so her local seasonal foods are quite different from ours on the central CA coast. She’s all about the chilies, and especially likes hot and sweet sauces: chilis combined with everything from bananas and mango to strawberries and rhubarb to apricots and plums.

Gift Box of Southwest Preserved Goodies
Preserved Foods Southwestern Style
After our phone conversation, she sent me a package of Southwest jams and syrups, sweet and hot-sweet, and a large box of Santa Cruz brand chili powder, a sisterly joke since I live in Santa Cruz county. Meanwhile I’m intrigued by the preservation of the prickly pear and jalapeno, much as I would preserve an apricot or berry here.

With preserving the local bounty in mind, I’ll be posting a few ideas this week for saving the fruits of summer. It requires some effort now, but come winter you’ll be glad you did. My first idea is simply freezing. This method works great on apricots and plums that don’t cling to the stone. I’m not sure how well this method would work if one had to cut the fruit off the stone. I think this method will also work for other cling-free types of stone fruits, like peaches, nectarines, pluots, etc.

The freezing tips are courtesy of Debbie Palmer, newsletter editor and former CSA coordinator and recipe maven for Live Earth Farm.

Apricots "Acidulating"
Frozen Apricots (and other Non-cling Stone Fruits)

Fill a big bowl half-full with what Debbie calls “acidulated water,” which is water to which she adds the juice of one lemon. This prevents the fruit from browning.

Wash fruit if needed. Cut in half, remove pit, and drop in acidulated water. When you’ve cut up all the fruit, spread a sheet of waxed paper onto a rimmed cookie sheet or baking pan.

Remove apricots from water one by one, shaking off excess water as much as possible. Spread cut-side-up on waxed paper in a single layer. They can touch a little, but don’t crowd them or they’ll stick together.

Put pan in freezer several hours or overnight. Then remove frozen fruit to ziplock, squeeze out as much air as you can, and zip shut. Store in freezer for use in any quantity, to be enjoyed plain or in recipes. Debbie says this is also a good way to “hold” the fruit until you’re ready to make jam, a trick that I have used in the past! Also good for those in hot climates that might want to postpone jam making till cooler days.

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