10 Creative Ways To Make the Most of Summer Fruit

200253689-001Ripe peaches, sweet strawberries, juicy plums—summertime means an onslaught of fresh fruit at delicious prices. Now what to do with all this bounty? It’s just too good to pass up! Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to enjoy your favorite fruits now and later.

  1. The easiest way to preserve your fruit is to do what food manufacturers do, which is to individually quick freeze it (IQF for short). It’s simple: spread out berries and/or cut-up larger fruit on a baking sheet, pop it into the freezer for a few hours or until it’s completely frozen through, then bag it. Freezing fruit in individual/small pieces before bagging it means it won’t congeal into one big clump.
  2. If you have a dehydrator, make fruit jerky. (Like the Fruit Roll-Ups of yesteryear, but so much better!) Blend fruit with a splash of lemon juice, then sweeten to taste with honey or maple syrup. Spread out thinly on a parchment-paper-covered tray and dry at 130F for 6 to 12 hours or until the jerky is no longer sticky.
  3. Pickle it! Pickled watermelon rinds are a Southern specialty, but any firm-fleshed fruit can be brined and pickled.
  4. Ice cream is an especially tasty way to make use of an embarrassment of fruit. You can make super-easy ice cream by blending all of your raw ingredients and then pouring them into an ice cream maker, or you can make French-style ice cream by first making a custard of your ingredients, then letting them cool completely before churning them in an ice cream maker. (Ice cream generally consists of milk, half-and-half, cream, and/or coconut milk blended with vanilla, egg yolks, honey or maple syrup, and fun extras like fruit, chopped chocolate, toasted coconut, or whatever flavors you like best.) Of the two kinds, custard-style ice cream has a nicer texture—it’s worth the extra time and effort.
  5. If your fruit is getting a little bit overripe, make a pie or two—after all, baked fruit is supposed to be soft and juicy, plus fruit pies are another great candidate to freeze and enjoy later.
  6. Gently simmer fruit with a splash of water and/or citrus juice until you can easily smash it into a puree. Stir in honey or maple syrup to taste if you’d like. This makes a great coulis (a.k.a. fruit sauce) for drizzling onto sweet or savory dishes. If you include fruits high in pectin, your sauce will be thicker. Pectin-rich fruits include berries, peaches, apricots, plums, cherries, grapes, and especially the zest of citrus fruits.
  7. If you’re into canning, take the coulis one step farther and make jams. Today’s lush berries can become this winter’s bring-back-that-summer feeling! If you do go the jam route, be sure to use mostly pectin-containing fruits to create a thick jammy texture (or use powdered pectin).
  8. Take cheesecake to a new level by stirring chopped fresh fruit or fruit sauce into the batter. Bonus idea: try using fresh ricotta instead of commercial-grade cream cheese, or make your own cream cheese by letting plain whole-milk Greek yogurt strain through a fine-meshed colander overnight in the fridge.
  9. Smoothies are always a hit! With summer fruits at their sweetest, try adding some veggies to your smoothies for more variety (and because the fruit will be sweet enough to disguise the not-as-sweet veggies).
  10. And of course there’s always the chocolate option: dip your favorite fruits in dark chocolate (70% and darker works best), then set on parchment-covered trays and refrigerate for an hour to set the chocolate. Serve within 24 hours.

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