Fruit season seems to come and go in the blink of an eye. Then winter arrives and, like us, you probably find yourself wishing for peaches, cherries, and berries. The fresh fruit from a farm really does beat what you can get in the store, in and out of season. So, how do you keep taking advantage of the farm-fresh fruit even in the colder months?
Freezing Your Fruit
The easiest way to keep fruit on hand during the winter months is to freeze it. There is a right and wrong way to do this, though. Here are some general steps to properly freeze your fruit:
- Get the fruit at its peak freshness (So if you buy it from Poole Family Farms, we recommend you do this the day you get your fruit for optimal freshness!)
- Wash your fruit with fruit wash or in water, and then let air dry.
- Use high-quality freezer bags (with as much air as possible removed) or a vacuum sealing system like FoodSaver to store your fruit in. Air can ruin your fruit, which is why we highly recommend a vacuum sealing system to ensure your fruit lasts.
- Make sure to label your bags of fruit with the name of the fruit and the date you froze them. We recommend not leaving your fruit in the freezer for more than a year, as it can really lose its appeal after that point.
Now, freezing berries is a little different than other fruits. Follow the general steps above, but we recommend adding these steps before bagging your berries:
- After you’ve washed and dried your berries (cut strawberries into bite-size pieces), place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Place the sheet with the berries in the freezer for one hour, then remove them and transfer them immediately to a freezer bag.
- Remove the air, label the bag, and freeze.
Freezing Stone Fruits and Fruits with Inedible Seeds
There are certain fruits you just don’t want to freeze with the seeds and pit still inside, like peaches, apples, pears, and cherries. You want to make sure these are prepared a little differently. Here’s how you’ll prepare these:
- Make sure they are RIPE. Nobody wants to create sour tasting fruit recipes in the winter accidentally.
- Peel the fruit (don’t peel cherries), cut it in half, and remove the pit or core.
- For peaches, apples, and pears slice each half into 4-5 slices. Then place each slice on a parchment-lined rimmed baking sheet.
- Place the sheet with the fruit in the freezer for one hour. Remove them from the freezer and place into a freezer bag, removing the air before labeling and freezing.
If you’re freezing fruit that can turn brown, we recommend treating the slices with ascorbic acid before freezing.
Canning Your Fruit
Fun fact: In 1917, President Woodrow Wilson urged women to can more food than normal to help with the war effort. Canned foods can last for a very long time if they are canned correctly.
Both cooked and raw foods can be canned using heat to seal them in a sterile and airtight jar. For instructions on canning, we recommend watching this YouTube Video on “How to Can Fruits” or by checking out the helpful information provided by the National Center for Home Food Preservation.
Drying Your Fruit
Although you don’t get to enjoy the same juiciness, taste or texture you’d get with frozen or canned fruit, drying is a great way to preserve your fruit and take advantage of it throughout the year.
The easiest way to dry your summer and fall fruits is by having a dedicated dehydrator. Depending on the fruit you’re drying (we recommend drying our apples!), you’ll just load up the machine with your sliced fruit, select the appropriate setting to dry it and leave it be until it’s done. Keep in mind, fruit usually needs to be 95% dehydrated before it can be safely stored. If it’s still sticky or spongy, it’s not ready for storage quite yet and could use more drying time.
If you don’t want to buy a dehydrator, you can also easily use your oven for drying! The results might not be quite the same, and you have to commit to only using your oven for drying for a good chunk of time, but it’s a good option if you don’t have a dehydrator at your disposal. Here’s how you’d dehydrate your fruit in the oven:
- Thinly slice your fruit and then soak it for 10 minutes in equal parts lemon juice and water.
- Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and place the slices onto the paper.
- Place the baking sheet with the fruit in a preheated oven of 130-160 degrees.
- Rotate the baking sheet every hour and continue cooking until the fruit slices are dry, pliable, and a leathery texture.
Get Your Fruit in Season for Best Results
As we said earlier, you want the freshest fruit you can get your hands on, and Poole Family Farms can provide that! To see what’s in season, check out our “Guide to Oregon’s Seasonal Fruits”.
To see what fresh fruit is currently being offered in your city, go to our Locations page and click on the name of your city! If you want to stay in the know and receive alerts for local sales, connect with us!