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What do you do when you find a windfall of fruits to forage and harvest but you don’t generally eat whole fruits in your normal diet? You find yourself challenged to discover as many different ways of preserving those fruits as you can!
We foraged for fruit in the woods and within the city this summer and thankfully, there are many ways to put fruit by. We’ve compiled a long list that has something for everyone, from the familiar jams and jellies, to ones that you may not have even heard of, like making mead.
One of the most popular ways to preserve fruits is canning. It’s a good choice because it requires no fridge or freezer to keep the food fresh and it’s always ready to go. It’s a favorite for many.
Fruit Jams, Jellies, Preserves, Conserves, Marmalades, Butters, Syrups, and More
Jams can be used in many ways besides spreading on a piece of bread or a cracker, so if you don’t eat many of those types of things, you may not want to completely rule them out as a preservation method. Jams (like this thimbleberry jam) are typically what comes to mind when most people think of fruit preservation. Alternative uses for jams, jellies, and preserves may include meat glazes, bases for meat glazes, and even in some meat marinades!
Applesauce or pear sauce may be another way to preserve some of the fruit harvest. While organic fruit sauces can be expensive in the store, they are extremely simple to make at home, and you can get as creative as you want with them by mixing hard fruits like apples or pears with berries or other spices and flavorings. It’s a nutritious whole food option when compared to jams straight out of the jar.
A versatile fruit syrup could be a fantastic pantry item. Use it over pancakes, waffles, pound cakes, in drinks as a flavoring, or even to top your ice cream. There are also seemingly endless fruit combinations so your imagination can really go wild.
A growing trend is fruit salsas! They can be made from just about anything you can think of and are less expensive than those available for purchase in the store. While these may be slightly more expensive to can at home if you don’t have the other salsa ingredients, they are a very tasty and different way to use your fruit.
Chutneys are very popular in the US and even more so all over the world. Although our chutney didn’t turn out to be very tasty, I am still willing to give it another go and I’d encourage you to do the same.
For pie eating folks with ovens, pie filling may be just the ticket! For us, having neither oven nor pie eating tendencies, it wasn’t a great way to use our fruit.
Preserving Whole Fruit
A very different way to preserve fruit is by canning the entire fruit whole. There are many unique and interesting recipes for this method of canning, although we chose not to use our summer fruit harvest this way.
I loved the apricot fruit leather that my mom made when I was a kid! Fruit leather is the good-for-you-alternative to fruit roll ups. It’s simple to make and costs just pennies compared to the exorbitant prices store-bought fruit leather brings.
Dehydrated Whole Fruit
Dehydrated fruit can be a great way to preserve your fruit if you aren’t feeling particularly creative or are pinched for time. Simply dehydrate it now to enjoy later in oatmeal, baked goods, granola bars, or just to snack on.
While it may not seem like an obvious way to preserve fruit, ice cream can be a fantastic treat and homemade ice cream is much less expensive than store-bought. If you get as lucky as we did, you’ll find a hand-crank ice cream maker too! We’ve enjoyed huckleberry and elderberry ice cream...what a treat that huckleberry turned out to be!
Turning Fruit Into Beverages
You can only eat so many jams, dehydrated and canned fruits, so we started thinking outside the normal boxes of fruit preservation. Why not a beverage or two to add to the mix? We realized that we could make something ourselves to enjoy in this area of preservation since we typically enjoy one non-water beverage a day.
Using simple ingredients like fruit juice, honey, and yeast you can be well on your way to creating some tasty mead to enjoy later. Many people enjoy wine, but mead is still preferred by some, including us!
A very tasty way to preserve fruit can be in a fruit liquor. All you’ll need is a hard alcohol base (rum, vodka, whiskey, etc) and some fruit. These types of liquors are very popular and can even be nice gifts. Summer fruits are perfect for preserving in this manner.
Add some fruit juice to sparkling water and you’ve instantly made a delicious fruit flavored sparkling drink that just about anyone can enjoy. We preserved a lot of fruit juice from our summer harvest. You can really dress it up or down depending on your mood or other resources.
If you have fruit juice, you are just a couple of steps away from probiotic soda. You’ll just need juice, sugar (unless it’s canned into the juice), whey or a ginger bug for a starter.
Freezing fruit is not a way that we froze our fruit, but for many it’s the #1 way they choose to preserve. Since we didn’t have a freezer this summer, and probably wouldn’t choose to freeze our fruit even if we had one, this wasn’t an option for us.
Do you have a unique way to handle a large amount of fruit? Does your diet, like mine, have you searching for any and every way you can find to get those fruit preserved? Let us know in the comments below!
Alyssa Craft moved to Idaho after purchasing 5 acres of land where she will build an off grid homestead from scratch with as little money as possible. She is blogging about the journey from start to finish in hopes of inspiring others that wish to take a similar path. Follow her many projects including getting started with portable solar power, creating an off grid water system and a diy hot tub. Follow Alyssa on her blog Pure Living for Life, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. View Alyssa’s other MOTHER EARTH NEWS posts here.
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