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Thursday, 29 June 2017 12:55

Summer fruits: Pretty and good eating

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If the orchard offers to pit your fresh-picked cherries, do it! Serve summer fruit with a dollop of creme fresh:?Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70 F) for eight to 24 hours or until thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days. If the orchard offers to pit your fresh-picked cherries, do it! Serve summer fruit with a dollop of creme fresh:?Combine 1 cup whipping cream and 2 tablespoons buttermilk in a glass container. Cover and let stand at room temperature (about 70 F) for eight to 24 hours or until thick. Stir well before covering and refrigerate up to 10 days. File photo

What do you like best about summer? One thing I absolutely love about summer is summer fruits. 

I love the look of them all lined up at summer markets. Plum skins shining purple black, fuzzy peaches blushing, blueberries twinkling, raspberries squeaking in the colander — there is not a summer fruit I don’t love, and that includes tomatoes (but that’s another story).

I love the way they smell, too.  Cantaloupe with its musky aroma, watermelon that is sweetly sticky.  And the way summer fruit tastes!  Now there’s something to write home about; ripe nectarines that ooze summer at its best, tart cherries that make your lips smack together. 

I love the way summer fruits snack — right in the hand. No preparation required. And I love to cook with them. They make wonderful light desserts, add pizzazz to entrees, liven up salads and add zing to summer coolers.

I simply cannot be talked out of my enthusiasm for summer fruits.  Now’s the time, people! Seize that summer fruit while it’s ripe! 

Get started with these fruits:

 

                                                                       

Apples

Not a summer fruit, however, apples are indispensable for helping summer fruits ripen. Simply place your peaches, apricots, plums or nectarines in a paper (not plastic) bag with a couple of apples and set on the counter for a couple of days.  Apples and pears emit ethylene gas that helps fruit ripen sooner — and it’s all natural.

Apricots 

I love to cook meats with apricots and plums — it’s a good combination, though Americans are not so used to having fruit served with roasted meats — think ham and pineapple and you’ll realize how good it can be.  Pork and game blend especially well with cooked fruits. I love apricot jam. 

Bananas  

This is the most popular and widely eaten fruit in the United States —  no wonder, even in summer, it is the cheapest fruit on the market. With all of the great summer fruit available, it’s easy for a bunch of bananas to sit around until they’re overripe. Don’t feed them to the chickens or the compost pile. Instead, peel and freeze them. The frozen bananas can be thawed and used in baking or to make milk shakes or smoothies. 

Blueberries 

What could be better than fresh blueberries in pancakes, on top of waffles or in a bowl of breakfast cereal? Blueberries also are good tossed in a plain cake or muffin batter. Coat the blueberries with flour first — it helps distribute them evenly in the batter. If you make your own ice cream, try blueberry. Oh my, it’s good.

Cantaloupe

This breakfast treat is so easy it should be sinful. Simply quarter and seed a cantaloupe. Run a knife between the rind and fruit to separate, but don’t remove the rind — let it serve as its own service plate. Put a scoop of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt on top of the cantaloupe and garnish with a few berries and a fresh mint, lemon balm or catnip leaf. 

Cherries 

I like to buy these best at a farm stand where they can immediately pit the fruit. I rush it home, give it a cleaning rinse and dab the cherries dry before laying them on a cookie sheet and sticking them in the freezer. Once frozen, I package them in small zip-close bags and stack them in the freezer. This is what’s known as IQF — you’ve seen it on frozen packages I’m sure. It means individually quick frozen, and what it really means is you can take just a few cherries out of the package to use without thawing the whole package,  a convenience I like. Add chopped cherries to cake batter and pancakes for a burst of taste and color.

Honeydew

This is the green flesh melon and it is one of my favorites for fruit salad. If you should acquire one that is too ripe — the flesh has lost its firmness — don’t despair. Use it for a sorbet. Puree the flesh with a bit of fresh pineapple, pear or banana juice or a combination (unreconstituted works good) and some superfine sugar (the superfine sugar is incorporated better and eliminates graininess). Put this mixture in a shallow pan in the freezer. Stir every once in a while until frozen. Scoop into pretty glasses and serve with a nice sugar cookie for garnish.

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