Ohh, summer fruits. We can’t get enough of them…luscious plums, sweet peaches, juicy berries, and not to mention the ‘dews and ‘loupes. The peak of the season is coming to a close, so carpe diem, right now.
Beyond the simple pleasure of devouring our summer faves in their raw state, we love the idea of using gentle cooking techniques to amp up their natural flavor, and also to make them last longer. As summer winds down, here are some tips and tricks to make the best of our summer’s sweet bounty.
Summer fruits are simply more fragile than winter citrus (and other seasonal faves). That’s the punch line, so you’ll need to use your judgment when it comes to handling fruit that might be past its prime. Don’t be overly concerned about a few bruises that your fruit may acquire; instead, inspect carefully. For nectarines, peaches and other pitted fruits, simply cut out the blemished spot and if the rest looks clear, eat it! Melons should be semi-firm when enjoyed, so if yours becomes soft and squishy on the inside or has any unpleasant odor, those are signs of spoilage and you should toss it. In the case of berries, you may get a few fuzzy berries every once in a while, but that doesn’t mean you have to throw the entire thing out. Simply remove any berries with a little mold, and after careful inspection, enjoy the rest.
Make it last
Sometimes we forget to store our fruit in the right place. Berries always go straight into the fridge. Melons and pitted fruits can be left on the counter top until they are ripe, and then transferred to the fridge. Check often for signs of ripeness: a floral, fruit forward scent and a little give when you touch the skin means it’s time to eat right away or transfer to the fridge. Also, wash fruit immediately before you eat it rather than when you purchase it. Why? Simply put, this strategy reduces the chances for bacterial growth. Need we say more?
Apply some technique
Macerate: Sprinkle a bowl of mixed berries or cut up fruit with some granulated sugar and a splash of your favorite liqueur (try orange or raspberry). Mix, and let sit for 15–20 minutes, allowing the fruit to break down and release their natural juices. Serve plain or with some fresh whipped cream. Store in the fridge, covered, for up to three days.
Simmer: To make what is known as compote, place a few cups of berries or pitted fruits into a small saucepan. Add a few tablespoons of water (enough to cover the fruit about halfway), a few tablespoons of granulated sugar, and a splash of lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then immediately lower to simmer. Cook for 10 minutes until the fruit breaks down and the juices start to thicken slightly. Set aside to cool and serve, or cover and refrigerate for up to three days. Serve over plain yogurt with some granola for breakfast or as a dessert with pound cake and vanilla ice cream. Use these tips to enjoy your summer fruits long into the winter!
Grill: Move the chicken and steaks to the side and make room for summer fruits longing for their own grill marks. Brush desired fruits with a little oil and a sprinkle of salt. Cook quickly (a few minutes should do) to draw out the sweetness but keep the fruit in tact. If you want to get fancy, plate with some fresh ricotta cheese and a drizzle of honey.