I am so blessed to live in an area that is home to bountiful fruit trees that are the envy to many other areas. I remember when I moved here, 15 years ago, my husband took me to a local fruit stand that had the most beautiful peaches and I totally embarrassed myself by asking if they were Georgia peaches. From where I came, that’s where peaches came from. The gentleman that I asked that question looked at me with fire in his eyes when he informed me that they were grown right down the road. Say what? This gal from a small town in Kentucky had no idea that peaches were grown in Ontario, how could that be?
So, that day I got a lesson on the amazing climate of the Niagara peninsula, called the “Banana Belt” of Canada. This area grows strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, currants (red & black), gooseberries, loganberries, cherries, apricots, plums, peaches, pears, apples and grapes – both Concord and wine grapes. If anyone is interested in learning more about the events that have taken place with the fruit industry here in southern Ontario, feel free to contact me and I can give you a small lesson. But, because of events of recent years, I find it very important to support the local farmers who sell their fruits and also use them to provide nutrition for myself and others.
Fruit Preserving The Easy Way
One of the easiest ways I have found to preserve fruits (and even vegetables) is using my dehydrator. It reduces the size, resulting in smaller spaces to store them. It also provides a very condensed flavour and will stay fresh if the power goes out or if I need something to take on a hike or trip. I’ll try and give you a few recipes here to dehydrate a few fruits and you can pick up a dehydrator at a thrift store (like I did) or garage sale for a decent price. If you don’t have a dehydrator, you can use the low temperature of an oven to dehydrate fruits but I won’t be giving directions for those.
For strawberries (which are in season here right now), wash the strawberries and remove the green crown, slice into ⅛ inch to ¼ inch slices and place in dehydrator trays. Dehydrate at 135 degrees for 8-12 hours or until leathery and crisp.
Cherries, which are now coming into season here, are just as easy – wash and remove stems; cut in half and remove pits, then cut halves in two. Place cherries onto dehydrator trays, skin side down and dehydrate at 145 degrees for 2 hours. Reduce heat to 135 degrees and dehydrate until leathery – 12-15 hours.
And, since I was so amazed that peaches grew here in the Great White North, I can’t leave out the directions for dehydrating them…
If you are dehydrating the peaches with the skins on, wash thoroughly to remove any pesticides. Or you can easily remove the skins by dipping the peaches into boiling water for one minute and then dipping them into ice water – the skins will easily slip off. Cut the peaches in half, remove the pit and then slice each half into ⅛ inch slices. If you peel and slice one peach at a time, it will minimize the browning. Dehydrate at 135 degrees until pliable, 20-36 hours. Once your fruit is dehydrated, it’s easily stored in an air-tight container in a cool, dry place.
These dried fruits can be added to salads, baked goods, pancakes, use your imagination and I promise you that you will be impressed with the condensed, bursting flavour from fruit preserving. This is just the start of my preserving the harvest for this year. What methods do you use, or do you?