Spring and Summer! Two of my favorite times of year. My other two are Fall and Winter, in case you were wondering. But one thing I absolutely love about Spring and Summer is the variety of FRUIT that becomes available! I love fresh fruit and I believe in buying produce in season. That means I get lots of strawberries, peaches, raspberries, pineapple, corn on the cob (yes, I know...not a fruit), canteloupe...mmm!! I love the apples of fall and the oranges of winter, but I really love the juicy, sweet, refreshing flavors of spring and summer.
Plus, it's a great buy! If you live in the west, you can often pick up a 40-lb box of peaches for $10-$15...that's 25 cents a pound. But what do you do with all that fruit? FREEZE IT!
Frozen fruit is a fantastic thing to have around, especially because you can enjoy the juicy, sweet, refreshing flavors of spring and summer when it's not spring or summer. All you need to do to freeze fruit is cut it up into the sizes you want (wash, core/destem), spread it out in an even layer on a cookie sheet, pop it in the freezer until frozen, and then put into individual ziplock bags. Sure, you could just toss the fruit straight into a bag and into the freezer, but then you risk them clumping together. However, there are some fruits that freeze individually in a bag without needing to be spread out first. These include bananas, raspberries, grapes, blueberries and apples. But strawberries, peaces, and oranges love to cling to each other, creating a big mass that is difficult to use.
Great frozen fruits to have in the freezer? Bananas, strawberries, pineapple, grapes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, mangos, peaches, nectarines, pears. Okay fruits to have in the freezer? Apples and oranges. Fruits I haven't tried in the freezer yet? Kiwis. But I'm sure they'd be great!
Now, what to do with all that frozen fruit? Make smoothies, sorbet, and popsicles. Put them in oatmeal, yogurts, or on waffles. Kids love having frozen fruit as a snack, too. I use frozen raspberries in raspberry jam, frozen mangos in strawberry mango jam, and frozen blueberries in blueberry peach jam (even though the recipe specifically says "do not use frozen fruit"--it works perfectly!).
Last tip? If you have a ton of oranges and lemons, zest the peels, put the zest in bags, and freeze it...you'll have zest any time of year!
Sorbet: Defrost 1-2 cups frozen fruit until a little softer but still frozen. Blend in food processor until smooth. Add honey, powdered sugar, or other sweetener if necessary. Serve immediately.
Popsicles: Follow the above instructions for sorbet, but pour the mixture into popsicle molds instead of serving and freeze until solid.
Smoothies (Shakes): Combine 2 1/2 cups liquid (water, milk, yogurt, or mixture of all), 2-3 scoops frozen juice concentrate, 2-3 cups frozen fruit and blend. Serve immediately (or pour into popsicle molds for popsicles).
For oatmeal: As soon as the oatmeal is done cooking, add 1-2 cups frozen fruit. Stir until covered by oatmeal. Let sit for 2 minutes and stir again. This helps flavor the oatmeal as well as cool it.
For yogurt: To flavor plain yogurt, follow the directions for sorbet (use less sweetener) and add fruit puree to yogurt. Or to add chunks of fruit to yogurt, simply defrost until semi soft and add to yogurt.
For waffles: Follow directions for sorbet (use less sweetener) and use as topping for waffles, pancakes, or french toast. Or make it chunky instead of a puree.