A problem, that seems like it’s not a problem. You are learning to cook with the seasons, and shopping at farmers markets and farms for great deals. Buying in bulk to keep price per pound down. But now that you have 20 LB of strawberries sitting on the counter in a90 degree kitchen what are you to do?
Can you tell I speak from experience? You’re not saving money if the food goes bad before you can use it up, or saving it, in some way. I can’t say I pioneered lazy cooking but I am a loyal follower! I keep things simple, between a full time job, the podcast and trying to spend time outside, I can’t spend forever in the kitchen. Some days I’m happy to take a shortcut and others days I wish I had more time to experiment in the kitchen. But, as is life, right?!
Here are my awesome tips for when you have way too much fruit and not enough time!
- Wash!- If you intend to do something like preserving strawberries, they should always be clean . I fill my clean sink, or in reality I clean my sink and then fill, with a few inches of water and a few glugs of white vinegar. Carefully dump the berries into the solution, and swish around. I let mine soak a while like 30 min. This step also makes the berries last longer for just regular fridge storage as well. I never skip this step. I do this with all berries but not fruit like apples or peaches, stuff with skin.
- Recipes! – What do you REALLY want to make? Does your family love jam? Or fruit for smoothies or something else? This is also the step where you have to decide how much time you want to spend doing this. Somethings are WAY easier than others. I’m lucky, I don’t like jam and with berries that’s about the most time consuming preservation option.
Instead we freeze sliced berries, and make ice cream, and make drinks, all of which I will cover in more installments of this series.
- Use It! One of the quickest ways to use up fresh fruit is to not preserve it and use it right away. Savor the season and eat some now. Have a fruit salad, bake a pie, what ever you wish. I make ice cream with just about any fruit I get extras of. My Strawberry Ice Cream Recipe is a favorite!
One of the easiest ways to preserve fruit for later is freezing. There is more than one way to do this and I have done them all.
Freezing Fruit for Smoothies-
If you plan to use berries or fruit slices for smoothies the freezing process has a couple extra steps. Essentially you don’t want the fruit to stick together so it is easy to take out just a few pieces for a smoothie. To do this- after the wash step, I cut my fruit into blender sized chunks. I clear an annoying large section of my freezer for a cookie sheet or other flat item like a cutting board or plate. I carefully set the fruit on the sheet so it is not touching. I recommend placing a Non-Stick Slip Mat down first if you have one. I check the fruit after about 2 hours. If frozen I fill up a FoodSaver bag or gallon freezer bag and seal for later.
Freezing for Pies and Baked Goods
Have you ever made pies in jars? Wide Mouth 1/2 Pint Canning Jars make awesome little individual pies that you can keep in the freezer. To do this, prepare your filling as usual and your pie crust. Press bits of crust into the jar until it is covered with a thin layer, thinner than a full size pie would be. Scoop the filling into the jar. Use the lid as a cooking cutter to make a top for the pie. Cut a few steam vents or fun shapes. Seal the jars and place in the freezer. I bake mine at 350 until the filling is bubbling. Just remove the pie from the freezer, place on a cooking sheet, remove the lid and bake! You can even bake them in a toaster over, AND they make great gifts.
Freezing in cubes
Another fun way to freeze fruit it to use your ice tray! If you have ever had fresh peaches, you know they can go bad in hours! They are so so so delicate. I recently had a few that I had not slices up for the freezer yet. I was getting a little lazy! Instead I threw about a cup of probiotic lemonade in a jar and fruit of two peaches and blended it with my Stick Hand Blender. Poor into your tray and freeze. Once frozen I move them into a tupperware or ziptop freezer bag. We use these in smoothies and as ice cubes in drinks!
If I am really in a hurry or have WAY too much to preserve I just slice up the fruit and toss it in a bag. This is quick and simple, but the fruit will freeze in one giant chunk. I use small bags and if I want to use smaller pieces I will bang the bag hard on my counter to break it up. I much prefer to freeze them individually, and then bag, but 20 pounds of berries is A LOT!
Hope you have enjoyed part one of this series. Stay tuned for the next installment soon!
Shared on Unprocessed Fridays @ Girl Meets Nourishment
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