December 20, 2014

What Do You Do With All Your Fruit?

Aug24

fruit collageIt’s the most wonderful time of the year…well, maybe not.

With our unseasonably high humidity and temps in the 90’s, the thought of needing a sweatshirt with a pair of shorts during some crisp autumn air days, nearly makes me giddy. The dog days of summer have come to a close, but the heat hasn’t. So what’s a woman to do?

Fully enjoy some of the fruits of her labor. Now, I won’t lie to you. I talked so much about our family picking blueberries, and enjoying my easy, cheater, one minute fruit cobbler, but we didn’t pick nearly enough. With all the smoothies we’ve been making, they are almost gone and my kids were on the verge of naughty defiance when they boycotted any more blueberry picking.

We are blessed to have a neighbor around the corner (well, a mile or two away, but in the country, that’s a true neighbor) who has mastered fabulous fruit trees and bushes. I want to sit at his feet and glean any wisdom I can from his horticultural geniusness because we tried planting fruit trees and they saw an early death (rest their soul).

Below are my poor pathetic looking blueberry and raspberry bushes. Yes, gardening disarray at its finest. After four years, I have finally started to see some fruit from my hard work, but now reality has set in. In my ignorance, FOUR years ago, I planted them too close to each other. I now need to dig up my blueberry bushes because as the raspberry and blackberry bushes have spread, they are now squelching out the life of my beloved blueberries. That is a difficult life lesson when it’s taken so long for them to finally flourish. I may lose the bushes with the transplant, but it’s a risk I have to take or they all will be gone.

I tell you, farming is HARD work. The thought of living off the land and feeding my family from things I’ve grown is so satisfying, but truth be told, it’s a really good thing there are stores still open or my children would definitely be starving based on their average four blueberries a day portion from my garden.

Yesterday, my friend told me our local Aldi’s had peaches, nectarines and plums for only $0.19/pound. Seriously? I couldn’t even buy my bushes for that small amount of money. So, the first thing on the agenda today is calling to see if that was just a one time mark down special. If it’s not, I’m heading on a fruit trek, and as I travel, I’ll dream about growing them on my own land, but give gratitude where gratitude is due…to farmers who’ve spent their whole lives perfecting this growing art.

garden disarray

Do any of you take advantage of stocking up on seasonal fruit?

I’ve never mastered the traditional art of canning fruits and vegetables, but one of the ways I save additional money is by freezing fruit in ziplocks when it’s on sale and saving them for our winter smoothies and desserts.

What do you do with all your fruit? Share in the comments, and we can learn from each other.

(edited to add: your ideas in the comments are wonderful...thanks for sharing.)

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Comments

  1. We mostly eat our fruit as is or put it in smoothies in the summer. When it’s hot I don’t like to turn on the oven to make cobbler. We love cobblers, though. A friend of mine freezes fruit like you described for smoothies. Fresh fruit makes a nice ice cream topping too.

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  2. I like to do the same thing with our fruits – chop up and freeze. :D I got quite a few yummy peaches at the market the other day, too.

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  3. I would love to have some fruit trees! Can’t wait to go apple picking this Fall! Yum.

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  4. I make a lot of smoothies, too, but I’ve been experimenting with different fruit recipes this summer. I like to use fruit in baking and cooking…coffee cakes, pancakes, etc.

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  5. I freeze things too. I haven’t figured out canning yet, and although I want to can, I think I will need an actual lesson before I do it. I have read books, magazine articles, and blog posts about canning but I am still afraid I will make a mistake and kill the family with food poisoning!
    Toni

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    Jens Reply:

    HAHA – you and me both, my friend. :) If there’s a way for it to creep in, it would definitely happen to us.

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  6. We go apple picking in the fall but our favorite place was hit by hail so they don’t have apples this year. So we’ll go somewhere else and get a bunch, I’ll make a bunch of applesauce in the slow cooker for the kids! We eat a lot of apples here so it won’t be a problem with them going!

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  7. I wish we had fruit in our garden. Saldy.. we were a square foot garden FAIL! LOL!

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  8. Love the idea of using the fruit for winter smoothies! :) Thanks for hosting, Jen!

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  9. I freeze fruits for smoothies, too. I have also recently started making freezer jam with the overabundance of fruit that I have been able to get very cheap this summer (namely blueberries). I hope to make peach freezer jam sometime soon! :D
    Alicia

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  10. Look at you all fancy with the picture collage! lol……looks great!!
    Winter smoothies with fresh frozen fruit are such a treat!!
    Thanks for hosting Jen!!

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  11. I love stocking up on fruit – just this weekend I peeled and chopped 10 pounds of peaches – I paid .89/lb but I thought that was a good deal – until I read about yours!!! I made a great pie (linked up here) with peaches and blueberries. I freeze blueberries too and blackberries for making cakes, muffins and fruit crisps all winter. It helps it go faster…

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    Jens Reply:

    trust me, I stocked up at $0.49/pound earlier this summer and then paid $0.99/pound just yesterday right before I got her message. SO, $0.89, I’ll still take it. :)

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  12. I can whatever we can’t eat in season. I am actually hosting a “Canning Week Blog Party” on my blog this week. We are daily posting tips, recipes as well as give-a-ways and a linky party all related to canning. It is our hope to get others encouraged and educated so they too are able to can on their own and put up their produce. Hope you can stop by sometime this week as it should be a lot of fun!!!!

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  13. We eat a lot of fruit in our house, although I have only just started growing some of it myself – but most of it comes from our local farmer’s market. We eat fruit salads, fruit on cereal, fruit with ice cream, smoothies and I bake with fruit a lot. I’ve linked to one of my favourite recipes for Blackberry Cake this week :)

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  14. at .19/lb, I would be borrowing someone’s truck. that is the best deal I have ever seen.

    Thanks for the carnival.

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  15. Elaine Pool says:

    Seriously, just packing the fruit in freezer ziploks & freezing it IS “canning.” You’re just bypassing a few steps, is all, and, the fruit tastes fresher. You can do the same thing with tomatoes (peel them first), squash/zucchini (blanch first), and other vegetables. I freeze whole bell peppers all the time & they’re great!

    Down here in Louisiana, basil grows like a weed (a planted weed) all summer long, but I long for that fresh taste in January. THIS summer I figured it out – my family doesn’t really like pesto, so I don’t waste my time making it & wasting all that good garlic & Parmesan. I packed my food processor FULL of clean basil leaves & chopped them up very well. Then I added enough olive oil to bring it together & make a pesto-like paste. Pack in a frezer bag (make sure to squeeze out any air, or the basil will darken) & freeze flat. When you “need” (long for) fresh basil, take the bag out of the freezer for long enough to soften it up a bit, then break off however much you want.

    Treat it just like fresh basil – don’t simmer it for 3 hours or whatever – you can also scatter it over tomatoes & mozarella for an amazing salad. It’s fabulous!

    My Cuisinart bowl was packed full of leaves, & I ended up with a quart bag, flattened to about 1″. That’s a lot of basil!

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  16. Hey, Jen, I know what you mean about farmers. My parents are wonderful gardeners & have grown fruits & veggies all my life. It’s not something that I have inherited, although my hubby is pretty good at it too. If it was up to me, we’d definitely starve, but oh how I love fresh garden bounty during the summer.

    I don’t have a lot of freezer space to put things up, but I do freeze blueberries when we get them & my mom passed on a bunch of FL strawberries that she got for free from relatives earlier this year. I have to use them up pretty fast since my freezer is not huge. I did make a few fresh peach cobblers this year that were delish. I shared the recipe last week.

    I’m sharing a delish Mexican pie dish that I tried recently & we loved.

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  17. Farming is hard work! Generally, we try to make jam out of our fruit that we buy or grow, and the kids have the jam in their yogurt year-round. This year, I’ve been pressed for time so I’ve been freezing whatever fruit I get, and mostly using it for smoothies. I do need to make some jam, but just haven’t had the time.

    I also have dehydrated apples and then use those on oatmeal or in apple cake. Almost forgot – I’ve used peach puree that was supposed to be for peach butter to replace applesauce. It’s thick enough to work in baking recipes.

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  18. I freeze all kinds of fruits! And I make freezer jam in small quantities.

    I freeze blueberries, blackberries, sliced strawberries, sliced peaches and pears. All are used for muffins, cobblers and breads. I like to make seedless blackberry jam and strawberry preserves for the freezer too. Peaches for cobbler of course!

    I also freeze a lot of green beans, corn, diced onions and other heavily used produce that freezes well. I like to can but we had a garden fail this year so I only did 1 batch. Boo. Now I’m re-thinking my stockpile to accomodate the fact that I will need a lot of canned tomato products, frozen green beans, etc.

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  19. Last year I froze blueberries thinking we’d enjoy them in smoothies in the winter (my first married winter!!). But neither of us wanted a frozen treat when it was so miserably cold outside! So I forgot about them. Then I found them one day in January, stashed in the back of the freezer. And MAN did we have the most delicious blueberry muffins that night!!! This year I’m goin’ for it again :)

    Canning: I froze my tomato sauce this year, but wish I had canned it. I think it would have tasted fine (since sauce usually has so many other flavors too), and I’d have more room in my freezer for applesauce. (Did you know you can freeze it splendidly?)

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  20. I’m just starting to learn how to can. In fact, the only thing I’ve canned so far is blueberry syrup. My Dad grows blueberries and had an abundance of them this year. He brought me many quarts of frozen blueberries that I’ll be enjoying this year as well as 12 quarts of canned tomatoes and numerous packages of frozen corn, peas & butter beans. He’s so good to me. My goal is to learn to do this myself. I wasted a lot of learning experiences offered to me growing up on the farm and never did much more than help with harvesting. I’m on a mission to learn though.

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  21. Thanks for hosting. Lots of yummy recipes here :)

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  22. I freeze most of our fruit because I’m afraid of canning! However, I made some Blackberry freezer jam from free for the picking blackberries. Freezer jam is so much easier because you don’t need any special equipment other than the jars.

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  23. I freeze some of my fruit to save for the winter when all I can think about are blueberries, and strawberries, and fresh peaches still warm from sun. Frozen isn’t quite as good but it does keep me going until summer.

    I’m sharing an older recipe of mine this week because it’s my family’s favorite way to eat fruit in the summer. We love our cobbler!

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  24. I freeze excess fruit. I also make jams and applesauce. It can be overwheming when all that fruit ripens at once!

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  25. Our CSA offers bulk organic fruit sales, and I did buy some cherries and blueberries, both of which can be frozen easily. Today’s recipe is for whole wheat waffles with blueberry sauce – a great way to preserve those blueberries!

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  26. We’ve hacked out a family fruit orchard, 2 acres or so,not counting the citrus planted around all our houses, in the middle of our walnut orchard (which pays the bills). My parents, my brother’s family, and my family share the proceeds. My mother and I make jam like mad all summer. Chutneys are nice too. And plum sauce. We also take fruit and make many,many pie fillings to freeze. The trick is to put the prepared fillings in a ziploc freezer bag and plop it into a pie tin and freeze. When it’s frozen, remove the pie tin. They store flat (yay!), and you can just plunk a frozen filling into an unbaked pie crust. Cover with foil for the first bit of cooking to keep the crust from browning too soon, and increase the cooking time by 10 minutes or so. (not positive about that, I sort of play it by ear). Voila! Fresh peach pie in February is bliss.

    My tomato crop is pitiful this year, but most years, I have many pounds (dozens? hundreds? I’ve never measured — many 5 gallon buckets full) of tomatoes. I also grow basil, so I go and get some salt , lots (lots!) of garlic and good olive oil and make quarts and quarts of tomato sauce. I do it all outside on the side burner of the bbq, to keep from heating up the house and cook it down nice and concentrated. That sauce goes into everything all winter long, as well as being the basis of some seriously good tomato soup.

    I’ve never had much luck freezing squash, but blanched green beans work great. Ditto basil pesto. Pumpkin is cheap in the fall, too, and those white ones everyone decorates with? Awesome flavor, beautiful color. Steam or roast (which I prefer — less watery), puree, and freeze in 1 cup portions.

    Find a friend to work with. It’s so much more fun that way, and many hands make light work.

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    Jens Reply:

    @Kristina, Kristina – I just may need you to write about this. I LOVE it, and so enjoy hearing about your family working together on this. What a heritage for sure! Do you have a freezer filling/Ziplock bag recipe for that? Is it just a traditional filling, but you put it in the bag?

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    Kristina Reply:

    Just do what you normally do– fruit, spices, sugar, thickener, then freeze. If I had to remember anything harder,I wouldn’t ever do it…

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  27. I like the idea of storing fruit in the zip lock baggies. Sometimes were not thinking smart and we let things waste that could go to some good use later on. I normally store a lot of banana’s and strawberries in my freezer. I linked my latest recipe today.

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  28. I freeze everything I have the freezer space for! It’s faster and I like the flavor of the fruits. I do love to can though – there’s nothing like seeing a row of your freshly canned produce sitting on the counter cooling. I just don’t get that same warm and fuzzy feeling about freezing things! ;) You have an open invitation to come to my house anytime and learn the basics of canning!

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    Jens Reply:

    @Melinda, Oh my goodness, you are so right. No warm fuzzies from freezing, but I know I’d get that from canning. So how far of a drive is it from NC? lol

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  29. My maternal grandma always had the most amazing gardens and orchards and canned everything! I have all of her old canning books. I’ve done jam, but would really like to try bread and butter pickles.

    We had a ton of raspberries this year that I froze. I just need to figure out if I can make jam from the frozen berries. My kids are getting tired of berry smoothies!

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  30. Thanks so much for hosting!

    I enjoyed reading the comments and seeing what everyone else does. I’ve also frozen some fresh fruit, but I love the idea of preparing fillings!

    This is our first year in our house, I had my sights set high and thought our garden would be bursting. With the extreme heat, clouds of mosquitos, and poor planning of our garden location, I feel like everything that could go wrong as far as gardens go, did. No worries, now I know what NOT to do for next year! I’m finding the only thing that we’ve had an overabundance of was *hot* banana peppers, when I meant to purchase sweet, lol. I’ve been cutting up and storing the peppers to use in the cooler months, but other than that, we eat what we find as soon as it’s done growing.

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  31. Ok, this is probably a dumb question but these smoothies you all talk about, how do you make them? We have a abundance of peaches and I’m thinking, that I should be making some peach smoothies. I’ve made several peach cobblers and crisps. And will be attempting a pie that I saw above. Thanks
    Nancy

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  32. I have a freezer full of fruit too. Mostly blueberries, strawberries and cherries in mine as I got really good deals on those this year. Not 19¢ lb (I wish) but I did get blueberries for $1 quart and that made me (almost) do a happy dance in the store. Now to get creative with some new recipes!

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  33. Last night we had a watermelon much bigger than my family of three could eat before it goes bad, so I sliced half the watermelon to eat now and pureed the rest for watermelon popsicles. No extra ingredients needed and I have enough frozen to last us a while :)

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  34. Thank you SOOO much for the information about Aldi’s fruit. I went by today (8/24/10) and they still had the nectarines, peaches and plums for $0.19/lb!!! I stocked up! This is so awesome, because we are trying to make ends meet on essentially one income (used to have two, but the economy is not being nice to the other). I have started couponing and stockpiling, trying to get to where we only spend about $50.00 per week on groceries. But, produce and dairy are the killers! Your blog is great, and inspires me daily. Thanks!

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  35. Hi Jen,
    This is the first year that I have found fruit so affordable! I put a bunch of blueberries, strawberries and even cherries in the freezer! I also found a way to get Apple pie filling, apple jelly and apple butter from the same apples. I posted it in the linky section.
    Enjoy your week,
    Sharon

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  36. Just linked up with a wonderful blackberry peach ginger pie I made with the 16 lbs. of blackerries we picked and froze. I’ve also made blackberry cobbler, blackberry muffins (that I froze so they will last longer). Will be attempting blackberry jam soon. We have a garden and we have been canning tomato sauce, pickles, and I’m attempting pepper jelly this week. Our little garden has given me a new appreciation for farmers! So glad to have found your blog!

    Heather @Gourmet Meals for Less

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  37. I’ll be freezing peaches this week – don’t want to learn to can – but I’ve done tomatoes before. I was blessed by generosity last weekend and was given two boxes of peaches. We’ve eaten quite a few, but still, that’s a lot of peaches!

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  38. I hope to plant fruit soon, so thanks for the heads up about planting things too close together! Also, I’ll have to participate in this blog carnival next week – I like it. :)

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  39. Like you, we pick LOTS of blueberries (at a farm in the mountains of NC) & every year the rest of the family (2 grown kids, 3 grands, & DH) think we have “enough” long before I’m ready to quit. This year we had 2 extra adults (son & as-of-last-Sat., his wife), so we picked more than usual but I sent a lot home with them, too.
    I’ve been having a smoothie almost every AM for breakfast that includes my fresh/frozen blueberries (lost 15 lbs.in 10 weeks). So I KNOW my blueberries are NOT going to last through the winter…:(
    Next year…
    BTW, my own 3 bushes did not produce much at all this year. Too hot & dry in the flatlands, I guess.

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  1. […] I’m sharing this recipe again today (August 24) because it’s a nice way to wrap up the end of fruit season.  I’ve linked up to Tasty Tuesday. […]

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