Food & Drink » Glenda Bartosh on Food

Food and Drink

Easy tips for using the pounds and mounds of fresh fall bounty

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But at this time of year, with so much in abundance that rule of thumb can be hugely impractical, especially if you get as excited as we do by the look and smell of all that glorious fruit and buy it up by the box. Once you lug it all home you realize, oh my gosh, what do we do with all this stuff to keep it as wonderful as it is now?

If you use your fridge like the fruit co-ops do, as a tool to control the ripening process, you can do pretty well.

Luckily, local grapes will keep quite nicely in the fridge for several weeks. But like all fruits, they’re far more flavourful and juicy at room temperature so bring them out a cluster or two at a time before you plan to eat them. Just as a point of interest, take a close look at the stems. When you see how plump and green they are compared to those shriveled brown stems you find on grapes shipped from California, or horror of horrors, Chile, you realize how long ago the latter were picked.

Depending on how you like your apples you can refrigerate them, or not, or the cool dryness of your basement might do. Some people prefer them fully ripened. Personally I go for the slightly green ones, with just an edge of tartness to them — the crisper the better. If you buy a 20-pound box, select a few of the ripest ones for instant eating, and cold storage the rest, bringing them out to mellow a day or two at a time.

Apples don’t do well in the freezer, but applesauce does, even without much sugar. After thawing, just scrape away the top bit that oxidizes before you use it.

Plums are also ideal for freezing. Just wash, slice them in half and pit them, then store them in freezer bags for plum crisps, plum cakes or whatever you fancy in the heart of January. You can also freeze peach slices (and overripe bananas for that matter), but they will turn brown from oxidation. A commercial product like Fruit-Fresh will prevent same, but you’re going to cook with them anyway, so I say what the heck. It’s just a bit of discolouration and the fewer chemicals the better.

After all this, if you still have some fruit ripening before you can get to it, try your favourite recipe for jam, conserves or sauce. Here’s a favourite that my mom has been making for years. It will light up your taste buds on toast, French or otherwise, sandwiches or hot porridge.