by Avis Licht
Fruit trees are one of the easiest ways to incorporate edible plants into an ornamental landscape. They flower, they fruit, they’re relatively easy to take care of, they provide shade and beauty BUT they give all their fruit at one time. One of the biggest complaints I have from my clients is that they don’t want to deal with all the fruit that falls. Here are a few really easy ways to preserve your harvest. It’s so worth it.
1. The easiest: Cull your fruit for perfect apples that have no worms, cuts, bruises or bites. These fruits will last for months in a cool, dark place. It’s important to make sure they are perfect or else they will start to rot and cause other apples to go bad.
2. Cut your apples and make applesauce: This is a good way to use “imperfect” fruit. Cut your apples into slices and remove any bad parts. I leave on the skins. I add a little fresh lemon juice which adds flavor and keeps the apples from turning brown. In this batch I used a little Rose water for flavor. Add a couple of tablespoons water and cook on simmer until the apples are chunky. Store in the refrigerator up to a week. It is divine.
3. Freeze your fruit: Put a little lemon juice into your bowl of cut fruit and stir it around. Put fruit into ziploc bags and throw them into the freezer. They’ll be ready for pie, sauce or smoothies any time. I wrote a post last Fall on freezing. You can read about it here.
4. Dehydrating fruit: This takes a little more time, but can offer some really tasty treats for later on. This dehydrator is not expensive and is small enough to store when not in use.
I use fresh lemon juice and mix it with water. Using a sharp knife I cut the apple in half and remove the core. Slice in 1/4″ layers. Laying the fruit in a shallow dish I put the fruit and lemon juice mixture together. This keeps the fruit from turning dark and gives it a great flavor.
Lay out in trays and let the machine do its thing. Mine took overnight to get most of the moisture out.
When done they should be flexible and leathery, but not watery. Let them cool and put them in ziploc bags in the fridge for storage. They are really sweet and make a delicious snack for kids.
5. Share, share and share some more. Bring your extra fruit and veggies to your local food bank. They’ll love you and love the food.