Saving Summer Fruit

The fourth of July is, for many people, the official start of summer.

You can tell summer has arrived with a walk around the farmer’s market: Apricots, peaches, cherries and other stone fruits. Strawberries. Raspberries. Melons. Take advantage of all these delectable choices!

Load yourself down with all the fruits you can find. Buy them in bulk to eat now and preserve for later. Unlike many vegetables, fruit goes from ripe to rotten very quickly, but that doesn’t mean you should pass up the economical flats of flavorful fruit. Your farmers likely will offer great deals for bruised or excess fruit. Take advantage of this opportunity. There are many ways you can extend the summer warmth all the way through the winter season.

At this time of year, blogs and magazines featuring mostly barbeque and baking recipes. It may seem there are limited resources for nutritious meals. Fear not! There are a few simple ideas that will allow you to enjoy this season’s juicy bounty.

1. Dehydrating
Thinly slicing fruit and dehydrating it not only gives it a new, chewy texture, it also helps preserve your fruit past its season. These are wonderful salad toppers or trail mix additions. Strawberries and raspberries are great dehydrated alone. Other fruit can be blended with dates or bananas. Spread them onto a paraflexx sheet to make fruit leather, or add to buckwheat groats to dehydrate fa summery granola.

2. Freezing
Simply cutting up stone fruit and placing it in the freezer is an easy way to preserve summer sunshine. Berries can be left whole. Simply place them into containers and freeze. you will have smoothie components on hand throughout the year. Frozen fruits also make wonderful sorbets. Frozen mangoes, for example, can be blended in a food processor with no added sugar to make delicious sorbet.

3. Juicing and Blending
Apples and cucumbers are the best to juice. I would not recommend juicing bananas or stone fruit. If the fruit cannot be juiced, you can toss it into your blender instead. Summer fruit is an easy way to make green smoothies sweeter and kid-approved. When the temperatures get really hot, these blended smoothies can be turned into popsicles!

4. Jamming
Fresh berries can be turned into jams in no time. Simply add your berry of choice (or a mixture!) and date paste to a food processor until it has reached your desired texture. For a more jelly-like jam, add a pinch of psyllium husk. This is not shelf-stable like canned jams, but still a delicious spread or dessert topper.

5. Fermenting
Summer is a great time to experiment with fermentation. Fruit topped with sugar will ferment if left out and stirred for several days. This creates a new twist on fruit salad. Fruit chutneys fermented with kefir grains make for an interesting summer side dish. Chutneys will last in your fridge for weeks or even months. Kefir grains can be added to pure fruit juices to ferment into a bubbly summer drink. Experiment with making Tepache, Alua, fruit Kvass and other traditional fermented fruit beverages. Sandor Katz’ new book The Art of Fermentation explains how.