Less Noise, More Green: Eating with the Seasons: using preserved fruits and vegetables in the winter, part 2

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Eating with the Seasons: using preserved fruits and vegetables in the winter, part 2

Kousa berry muffins. I have another cup and a half of puree frozen for use this winter.
Yesterday, I shared with you some ideas for using the preserved vegetables we've all worked so hard to put up this summer, in our winter meals. Today, lets talk about cooking with preserved fruit.

During the winter I use a lot of dried fruit. Currants, raisins, golden raisins (sultanas), apricots and cranberries, all find their way into my cooking. I use them in scones, muffins and quick breads, or add them to homemade granola or muesli. I often soak dried fruit to plump it up before using in baking. Pair dried fruit with nuts, such as apricots with almonds and cranberries with walnuts, for great flavor combinations. Sometimes I create my own trail mix for snacking, but dried fruit is high in calories so watch portion size!

I use dried fruit in savory dishes, too. Add to rice to create a wonderful rice pilaf. Saute onions, raisins, cranberries and apricots in a pan, then add to cooked rice, season and stir. Top with cashews. This makes a great side dish.

Fruit curries are a favorite in my house.  Raisins and tomatoes create a sweet and tart combination that works with either chicken or beef. The following recipe I make in a large quantity at the end of the summer, when I still have green tomatoes, and freeze for the winter. All I have to do is defrost and add the meat. This is often how I use up leftover roast chicken.

 Freezing bags flat will take up less room in the freezer

Green Curry Base
(adapted from a recipe found on Thy Hand Hath Provided)

3 lbs green tomatoes, skins on, cored and cubed
2 onions chopped
¼ cup of butter
2 tbsp, curry powder, more to taste
1 tbsp. cumin
1 tbsp. tumeric
1 cup of water
½ cup of brown sugar
½ cup of raisins
2 tbsp. lemon juice
½ tsp. salt
Cook onions in the butter until translucent. Add the spices and cook for another minute.  Add the rest of the ingredients, cover and simmer for half an hour, stirring occasionally. Add more water if needed. The sauce should be chunky, not completely smooth. Let cool completely before filling freezer bags, two cups per bag. Label and freeze.

Apple Spice Cake is chock full of apple sauce.

Canned applesauce is a snack in itself, but can be used as a substitute for oil in baked goods or be the star of apple spice cake. I make my own fruit filled cereal bars and applesauce is amazing in these. Add it to oatmeal or yogurt, the uses are endless! We go through jar after jar in the winter.

I make a lot of jam. We eat it all the time in this house and for more than just a topping for toast. Add jam to oatmeal or ice cream, as a filling for muffins, or in a PB and J sandwich. Computer Man puts jam on his cream cheesed bagel.  I like to use jam as a glaze for meats. One of our favorites is baked chicken thighs covered in a mix of BBQ sauce and lemon marmalade. 

Frozen lemon curd, made when Meyer Lemons were in season, last March.

 The texture of frozen fruit is very different to fresh. Once thawed, the fruit is soft and mushy, which is why I usually stew the fruit or use it in baked goods. Puree frozen strawberries or blueberries to use in smoothies, or create sauces with pureed defrosted fruits to drizzle on french toast, pancakes or ice cream.

Each fall I peel, core and quarter five apples at a time, place them in a freezer bag and freeze. Once defrosted, the soft apples make quick chunky apple sauce to use in apple cake. Cut up defrosted apples and use in baked fruit desserts or make a hot breakfast by adding frozen cranberries to the apples in a baking dish. Drizzle on maple syrup or honey, then top with granola. Bake at 375 degrees F for twenty minutes. Eat hot with vanilla yogurt.

In the winter months we may not be eating fresh fruit salads, but we are eating seasonally and nutritiously. When fresh is available in season we enjoy it more because we know the time to enjoy it is short. In the summer we eat pounds of fresh strawberries. Once fall comes around, though, on a cold night we crave hot strawberry and rhubarb crumble, using fruit frozen in the summer. I do buy some fresh fruit in the winter, especially citrus, which is in season at that time in the US, but I try to incorporate as much preserved fruit as I can using recipes that bring out the best in dried, frozen and canned fruit.

Do you change your recipes to match what is in season?

See you in the kitchen,


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing. I froze peaches this year when I got a good deal on some to have for winter. I also freeze applesauce and have been working at that recently. Trying to do anything to keep us eating "fresh" and local.