Here are tips and storage ideas to make your fruits and vegetables last longer.
Dehydrate Fruit and Vegetables in the Oven
A common way to make your summer fruit and vegetables last longer is to use a dehydrator. It is perfect for your favorite summer fruits and even for making sun dried tomatoes. If you don’t own a dehydrator, that’s okay! You can use your oven to do the exact same thing. Turn your oven on as low as it can go and space the cooking racks evenly apart. Cover baking sheets with parchment paper. Take the fruit you want to dehydrate and space it out in an even layer on the baking sheet. Put them in the oven and flip the fruit over in roughly four hours – you should be seeing signs of shriveling! If you decide to not use parchment paper, your fruit may be done a few hours earlier, thus keep an eye on your oven to be sure you don’t burn them. The fruit should be completed around 6-8 hours after putting it in the oven.
Freeze Summer Fruits and Vegetables
One of the best ways to keep your produce from spoiling fall is to freeze it! Do you love fresh smoothies and delicious pies? Well, you can enjoy your favorite summer fruits and vegetables in the middle of the winter! It’s tempting to just throw the fruit in a freezer bag, but if you do this your fruit is most likely to freeze into a solid brick. An easy way to freeze fresh produce is to prepare it like you would be eating it immediately. Wash and dry the fruit you want to freeze. Make sure it is completely dry before freezing or else it will develop freezer burn. Peel and core fruit like apples or pears. Remove the pits from peaches and chop them into small pieces. Any kind of berry, like raspberries or blueberries, can be left whole. Put the fruit on a baking sheet and pop the baking sheet in the freezer. Once frozen, the small pieces can be transferred into a freezer container to keep them fresher longer. If you are going to put the fruits or veggies in a freezer bag be sure to remove as much air as possible to protect the fruit from freezer burn. The frozen fruit and vegetables should last around three months.
Another way to store fruit and veggies is to use it to create flavored vinegar. Start with a high quality white wine vinegar because it will have a minimum level of ethyl acetate. Have an equal weight of fruit to vinegar. Choose whatever fruit you want to use and be sure to crush it gently in a saucepan. Pour in the vinegar and bring to a simmer for just a minute. Use a jelly bag or cheesecloth to separate the fruit from the liquid, then pour the liquid into a hot sterilized jar and let it cool with the cap off. Once cool, put the cap on and store in a dark cupboard. Let it sit for about a week, lasts for up to one year.
Make Jam with Summer Fruits
Making jam is a great way to enjoy your favorite summer fruits long into fall. Use fresh and slightly under-ripe fruits. If you are planning on making strawberry or raspberry jam, it is best to layer with sugar and let them sit for a few hours before cooking. If you are using plums, currants, gooseberries or cherries, they need to be poached before adding sugar. The setting point is 220 degrees. You will know it is the setting point when the fast, frothy boil turns into a slower more relaxed boil. The small air bubbles will disappear and it will appear much thicker. It is better to undercook than overcook. Stir the jam before filling your jars!