I love this time of year. There is so much fruit to be had from gardens, allotments, and open spaces, as well as bags of surplus going outside front gates for an absolute song. Just yesterday I picked up a big bag of lovely Bramley apples for just 50p!
It’s not just apples to be had though – there are plums, greengages, and pears galore, all of which make delicious fare however you choose to eat them. However, when there is so much produce to be had, what do you do with it all?
Well, I love to stew and freeze. I get this habit from my mum, who always used to freeze stewed apples from the tree in our garden. I really enjoy some stewed fruit and yoghurt after dinner as a healthy dessert, or to bulk up my breakfast muesli.
Stewing is easy, and providing you’ve got a decent supply of Tupperware (the plastic takeaway style ones are cheap as chips off eBay) and room in your freezer, you can be kept in fruit through most of the winter.
If you’ve never stewed surplus fruit before, here are 5 tips to help you on your way.
Go easy on the sugar.
The amount of sugar your fruit needs will depend on how ripe it is. If the fruit is really ripe and sweet, then you won’t need much at all. As a rule of thumb, I use two teaspoons of sugar and taste later on. If you need extra sugar, you can always add some more afterward.
Sometimes I use runny honey instead of sugar. This is particularly good if you’re baking or stewing rhubarb.
Put a tiny bit of water in the bottom of the pan.
If your fruit is really ripe, it will produce plenty of juice, but I think it’s always a good idea to add a trickle of water to the bottom of the pan before you begin cooking. This will stop the fruit from burning.
Stir fairly frequently.
Stirring frequently will also help prevent the fruit from burning. You don’t have to be a slave to the cooking process, but I’d definitely suggest being around and close whilst the fruit is on the hob.
Experiment with flavours.
I’ve grown to enjoy throwing some flavourings in when I’m stewing. Some good choices have been Vanilla with plum or gooseberry, apple and cinnamon, and rhubarb and ginger. Orange zest is also tasty with rhubarb.
Reducing the liquid.
Sometimes, especially if the fruit is ripe, you will end up with a lot of liquid. You can reduce this if you like by removing the lid of the pan. Of course, you can keep the juice too, as I do. It goes nicely with the yoghurt, or you can even use the excess as cordial.