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    Five Ways to Preserve Fall Fruits

    By Debra Morris–

    There’s not much that surpasses the flavors of apples, pears, grapes, figs, and persimmons in the cool fall months. You should be consuming produce in season for the best flavor and nutrition, but sometimes it’s nice to have the taste of an apple or pear to enjoy during the off season.

    Preserving fall produce for later use means you can enjoy seasonal favorites all year long. A bag of crispy cinnamon apple or persimmon chips, a jar of canned pears, or even pickled figs and grapes could be what you need. When preserving, remember to start with the best fruit from your local farmers’ market for the best results. The produce is fresh, flavorful, and often with unique varieties available.

    Canning: One of the most flexible ways to preserve fruit is canning. Canning preserves fruit for about a year or so. Jams, spreads, butters, and fruit in syrup are just some of the delicious foods you can create with a simple water bath canner, jars, and a few tools. Apple butter and pears in light syrup are two easy ones to try. Just be sure to follow directions in your approved recipe to avoid illness or contamination. Visit the National Center for Food Preservation website at https://nchfp.uga.edu/

    Uses: Top toast or ice cream with jams and butters; pour on top of chicken or pork.

    Pickling: This version of canning allows for many fruits to be preserved by adding vinegar, salt, and pickling spices. Usually, vegetables are pickled, but homemade pears, grapes, figs, and even persimmons can be pickled. Pickled fruits can last up to two years because of the acidic content.  

    Uses: Impress at your next dinner party by featuring homemade pickles on your charcuterie board; add pepper jelly topping on a block of cream cheese.

    Dehydrating: Love apple chips? Using a dehydrator, the oven, or even the sun can produce great snacks using fall and winter produce. Persimmon, apple, and pear chips are some favorites. An easy way to make raisins at home is to use a dehydrator. Dehydrated foods should be used within four months. One drawback to dehydrating is that it takes time and patience to dry fruit to the desired consistency. But the results are delicious!

    Uses: Mix dried fruit with nuts for a homemade trail mix, or add to quick breads and muffins, or add to yogurt or your morning oatmeal.

    Fermenting: This form of food preservation has been experiencing a renaissance as people discover the advantages of fermenting for the probiotics that are created. Start with a fermenting kit, or visit reliable websites to learn how. Apples, figs, grapes, and more can be fermented. The difference between fermentation and pickling is that fermentation is preservation through a bacterial reaction, whereas pickling is preservation via salt and acid.

    Uses: Make pastrami and homemade sauerkraut sandwiches; add to potato salad; toss in salads.

    Freezing: Almost all fruit can be frozen. They are easily frozen, but some do not maintain their firmness. Frozen fruit is better used for sauces and jams. A good investment is one of the seal-a-meal machines if you do a lot of freezing. Many of your seasonal produce selections can be stored, defrosted, and used at a later date. Frozen fruit should last several months.

    Uses: Pull fruit from the freezer for easy-to-prepare jams; make healthy smoothies in the blender.

    Enjoy fruits of any season by preserving their flavor and nutrients using the methods above. This month at your Castro Farmers’ Market you’ll find Allard Farms out of Westley with Hosui and Olympic Asian pear varieties. Organic Shinko Asian pears are available from Ken’s Top Notch from Reedley. They also have a wide variety of organic grapes and persimmons. Rodin Farms have sweet grapes and persimmons as well. Rainbow Orchards offers a nice variety of apples and pears from Camino.

    Support your local farmers and shop the farmers’ market where you know you’ll be getting the freshest and most diverse selection of fruits.

    Pickled Asian Pears

    2 pounds Asian pears, very hard
    1-1/3 cups Chinese white rice vinegar (can substitute distilled white vinegar; cider vinegar is not recommended because it adds too much apple flavor)
    1-1/3cups water
    12 cup sugar
    2 teaspoons salt

    Peel, wash, seed, and cut the pears in quarters. Add to glass Mason jars. Mix all remaining ingredients well, until dissolved. Pour into the jars. Cover tightly. Keep in refrigerator, undisturbed, for at least 3 days before use. These pears will keep refrigerated for at least 6 months.

    Makes about two to three pint jars, four to six servings. Adapted from The Chinese Kitchen by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo.

    Debra Morris is a spokesperson for the Pacific Coast Farmers’ Market Association (PCFMA). Check out the PCFMA website for recipes, information about farmers’ markets throughout the region and for much more: https://www.pcfma.org/

    Published on September 9, 2021