Autumn is the time of year where we prepare to hunker down for winter, and you may be looking for ways to give yourself a reminder of the summer and autumn months. By preserving fruit from your garden trees and bushes, you can enjoy their unbeatable taste during the darker months of the year.
There are myriad ways to preserve fruit and vegetables, and I’ve written about many of these before – find the links at the end of this article.
With tree and bush fruits, there are a number of other unique ways to draw out their wonderful flavour, and I’ll let you know my top three methods here.
Freeze your fruits
I know freezing excess fruit isn’t exactly groundbreaking – but hear me out, because frozen fruit is extremely versatile and will last you all the way through the winter.
There are lots of ways you can freeze your fruit, and lots of ways to use it up. You can slice and prepare fresh and uncooked fruit for freezing to be used in smoothies, cake mixes, and toppings for breakfast pancakes or a bowl of yoghurt or ice cream. When freezing the fruit initially, make sure it’s washed and sliced if needed, and lay out in one layer on a parchment-lined baking tray so that they freeze evenly. When frozen through, the fruit can be placed into sealable freezer bags for easier storage.
You can also cook berries down and add seasonings or spices before freezing, and stew excess apples into a hearty applesauce with warming cinnamon that will keep wonderfully in the freezer (fresh apples do not freeze well, so it’s best to cook them first).
Dry the fruits
I love to eat dried fruits like berries and apples sprinkled on top of warm porridge with a drizzle of honey or agave syrup – perfect for getting cosy on a winter morning.
Drying fruit at home is really simple, and you don’t need one of those fancy dehydrators to get great results (although they’re a worthwhile investment). You can dry fruit in your oven, keeping it on a low heat for a long period of time. It’s not an exact science, so you’ll need to keep your eye on the fruit’s drying progress until it becomes shrivelled, leathery and tough – it may not sound appetising but the finished result is so intense in flavour!
After washing and draining your fruit, make sure it’s totally dry before spacing out on a baking sheet and placing in your oven. Larger fruits like apples will need to be cored, sliced and placed in a solution of water and lemon juice to prevent browning.
Make fruit syrup
If you have an abundance of berries, cooking them into a fruit syrup is an inventive and versatile way to draw out those beautiful flavours and enjoy through the autumn and winter. Fresh berries are great to use if you still have them, but if you’ve already thrown some in the freezer this is a great way to use up frozen fruit. Most recipes are super-simple and call for just fruit, sugar and water – this recipe is a great starting point.
Add fresh herbs for a bit of a savoury note too – strawberry and tarragon go beautifully together, and blackberry and sage are a lovely combination. Once prepared, the syrup should keep in the fridge for up to a week (the sugar acts as a preservative) but if you’re wanting to save yours for even longer or making a larger batch they also freeze well for use later.
These fruity syrups are great for the whole family when diluted into a cold drink using sparkling water, or just regular tap water and some ice. Between you and me, they’re also a lovely addition to a cocktail or topped up with sparkling wine!
I hope with these three methods for preserving your tree and bush fruit, you’ll be enjoying the taste of summer throughout the months when we could all use a little pick-me-up.