I kind of feel like I'm cheating with today's post. It's a non-post, really. I have done a lot of these kinds of things over the years and already this season, but it's one that does in fact come in quite handy over the course of the year. It's putting up the fruit harvest, and there are a couple of ways you can do it. I'll show the simplest ways, and will endeavour to make a fermented version of fruit-keeping in the days ahead, seeing as I just hauled home some great finds from a produce stall in the Shuswap. I tell you, the harvest season is quite easily one of my most favourite times of the year, it has all the excitement that Christmas had for me when I was a kid, but in fresh food form. I know, geek, amiright?
Let's start with apples: they're easy to get, whether they be from your tree or from your local Apple Lady, and they're delicious. And there are many ways you can put these up: the easiest being, if you have access to cold storage, to drop your bounty in there so you can pull some out in small batches. Other ways: I make a big batch of apple sauce every year by melting chopped cored apples in with some honey and cinnamon until it tastes right, and mashed with my hand blender. I freeze it in small containers and pull it out for lunches or desserts or pork chops. There is no recipe, it involves you using your taste buds and making it taste right. THAT'S IT. Also, you could do like I did with this lovely batch of apples, core them and slice thinly (I use my $1 mandolin slicer that is on its last legs) and pop on a dehydrator screen and dry until it's like a dried apple spear. I know, again with the technical stuff. I use these sliced apples in granola, throw them in my girl's lunchbox, and use them as the base for flavouring my water kefir and kombucha drinks. I'm sure there are many other uses, but my favourite thing about this is that it takes just a few hours in the dehydrator, and they will stay for a few years in my pantry, not taking up much space but really earning their keep in my pantry arsenal of tools.
I did the same thing with pears this year, as the pear/ginger combination is a favourite in my homemade probiotic drinks. I did halves though, and sliced three grooves out of the back of each cored half in the hopes it would dehydrate more fully (and because my good friend Di told me to do it this way), and plunked those in the dehydrator (for a considerably longer time than the apples, I might add). My thought here was that it would be a delicious treat for my girlie in her lunches this year, kind of like homemade gummies, with only one ingredient. I will be doing more of these this fall, they are INCREDIBLE. (Make sure to also save the smaller wedges you have cut out of the pears - they're great and dry out before the halves do.)
I did soak the apples and pears in a water/lemon juice combination beforehand in the hopes of preventing browning from happening, but wasn't that successful. It's ok, it's how things are supposed to be when dried! They still taste delicious.
Other things you could do with apples or pears instead of dehydrating them: you could make homemade apple cider vinegar from scraps, you could of course ferment it into a myriad of things like apple cranberry relish, this most delicious apple/kohlrabi/fennel relish that ferments beautifully, or if you or a friend has a juicer, you can throw these babies in whole to the juicer, pressing all of the good juice out of there and storing it for drinking up in the following few days or a special treat for the kids on your street.
I picked some peaches up when in the Shuswap this past weekend for that last swing at summer, and have plans to make some fermented peach chutney in the coming days. In the meantime though, I did plunk a few in boiling water for a minute at a time, and then shocked them in a cold icy water bath in order to stop the cooking, and then peeled them, scored in quarters and de-pitted them. I dropped them on a tray and popped those babies in the freezer, the idea being that they will end up in smoothies or cobblers down the road. Truly though, I dream that they all end up meddled in with some creme fraiche and turned into peach vanilla ice cream. There really is no other way to describe summer, is there?
For those with an overabundance of rhubarb, you could chop it and freeze it in small batches to use in desserts and to flavour those second ferments, or you could make this wonderful Rhubarb Salsa (oh it's fermented, of course). Whatever you do, make something with that bounty in your yard or by picking up a few boxes of things while out in the Okanagan or your favourite local farmer's market, and play with your food. Your mid-winter self will be thanking your busy-summer-bee self before you know it.