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Using up last year’s frozen fruit

Fruit Cobbler (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

In spite of last week’s snowfall, summer is almost here! It’s time to use up all that fruit you stored in your freezer last summer.

Most winters begin with holiday gatherings. Later, the New Year brings potlucks, church coffee hours, library lunch gatherings with homemade cookies … One of winter’s joys is turning on the oven to bake treats for friends.

That is why we stock our freezer with fruit: blueberries we picked in the woods, strawberries from local farms, plums, peaches and cherries purchased at farm stands, all frozen for winter baking.

Most years the calendar is full of plans and celebrations. We look forward to events with hope and anticipation.

But this year was different. Pandemic knocked on our door, changing our lives. What was once normal, is normal no longer.

Blueberry oatmeal muffins (Provided photo — Yvona Fast)

This was the year of the blank calendar.

Library lunches were canceled. So were coffee hours, church suppers, club potlucks. There were no holiday parties. No birthday gatherings. No apres-ski at friends’ homes. No dinner outings with friends. No fundraising dinners or breakfasts. No weekends away.

It is as if we are living in the 1993 “Groundhog Day” movie — living the same day over and over and over again, each day melding into another. Weekends are just another set of days. Is it Monday or Thursday? The calendar on the wall says it’s April.

This was the year of the quarantine isolation dance. Scared, staying safe at home, we danced alone. It was startling. It was sad. It was lonely.

But there is hope. We anticipate summer, with berries to gather in the woods and farm stands full of fresh delights.

Most people have been vaccinated against the deadly virus. Last week, I made blueberry muffins for a friend whose family was visiting from out of town.

Church coffee hour will be starting soon. That’s a good thing, since our freezer remains full of frozen fruit.

Muffins, quick breads, cobblers, crisps, scones, cakes and other baked goods are all good ways to use up frozen fruit. Parfaits and smoothies can also be made with fruit from the freezer.

Here are three recipes.

Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins

Ingredients:

2 eggs

1/2 cup cooking oil

1/3 cup maple syrup or honey

1/3 cup sugar

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup whole wheat flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup rolled oats

2 cups blueberries

1 Tablespoon sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Prepare 12-cup muffin tin by greasing or lining with paper liners.

In bowl, whisk together eggs, oil, syrup or honey and sugar. Stir in yogurt. In another bowl, combine dry ingredients: flours, baking soda, and salt. Fold these into the batter. Stir in the oats and fold in the berries.

Fill 3 / 4 full. Sprinkle a little sugar over each muffin.

Bake for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees; check for doneness with a toothpick.

Option: Turn dough into bread pans instead of muffin tins; baking time is about 40 minutes.

Fruit Cobbler

Ingredients:

3 cups fruit of your choice

4 Tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter

1/2 cup milk

1 Tablespoon sugar

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt butter in small saucepan. Add milk and sugar.

In bowl, mix together flour, baking powder and salt. Add milk-butter-sugar mixture from saucepan; stir to make a soft dough.

Butter a 9” x 9″ baking dish (or spray with cooking spray.) Chop large fruit (like peaches or pears) if using.

Arrange fruit in bottom of dish. Spoon the dough over the fruit.

Bake about 1/2 hour at 350 degrees, or until topping is golden brown.

Serves 6 – 9.

Note: Good combinations of fruit include peaches and blueberries; pears and tart berries like currants or cranberries… use your imagination. Or just use one type of fruit or berry.

Berry Banana Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 cup yogurt (plain, vanilla or berry)

2 cups frozen berries

1 banana

1/3 cup crushed ice

Directions:

Place yogurt, berries and chunks of banana in blender. Blend until frothy. Add ice and blend a few more seconds.

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Author of the award-winning cookbook “Garden Gourmet: Fresh & Fabulous Meals from your Garden, CSA or Farmers’ Market,” Yvona Fast lives in Lake Clear and has two passions: cooking and writing. She can be found at www.yvonafast.com and reached at yvonawrite@yahoo.com or on Facebook at Words Are My World.

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