This week as been quite full here on the Farm because our All Fruit CSA launched. Our farm has 4 core values which are kindness, affordability, generosity and sustainability. Our CSA had over 10lbs of freshly picked Bing Cherries and many perfectly tree ripened apricots. I know many of our CSA family are going to be sharing their boxes but some may be wondering how to store this much delicious fruit? We also have had many friends of our farm come and visit our farm stand and buy an entire box of peaches, apricots, nectarines blueberries, red sweet cherries and our sour pie cherries. Some of your may be wondering what are some ways you can store your fruit to prolong its shelf life and or enjoy them in the colder months.
Many people are not aware that all of our fruit even when placed in ample refrigeration continues to ripen slowly. Fruit is so special because it is perishable and will not last forever, even in a controlled atmosphere cold storage the fruit will still decay over time. The carbohydrates/natural sugars in fruit are constantly converting and breaking down and their is a shelf life to fruit storage. The fruit picked for big box stores is picked way before the natural sugars have formed and therefore they oddly will last much longer than tree-ripened fruit that you can purchase only from farmers and farm stands. The fruit in big box stores always seems bland to me and mealy. In my humble opinion you really should not be eating any fruit from the big box stores if you live in the Northwest. There are so many amazing farmers and farms nearby your home that are producing each summer and fall some of the most incredible tasting fruit in all the world and there really is no comparison. Supporting your local farms and farmers is a WIN/WIN! Many of you of course already know this and I want to thank you for all your support of our small family farm.
Here are some of my ideas for prolonging the amazing fruit harvests of Summer....
Red Sweet Cherries are one of my favorite fruits. Cherries need to stay cool and should be refrigerated at all times to prolong their longevity. They can be stored in a paper, plastic bag or bowl. I would not recommend leaving them on your counter because they are tree-ripened on our farm and sweet at candy. If you would like to enjoy them year round I recommend you pit them and place them in a freezer bag. You can also dehydrate them or you may can them in mason jars. I like the resource of "Food in Jars" if you want to learn more about putting up fruit for the winter. They can be made into delicious jams, pie filling or your can cover them in sugar for a few days then place them in vodka(no need to pit them). This last storage method is especially divine.
Our Peaches and Nectarines are also tree-ripened and must be refrigerated at all times. They can be kept in their box or transferred to a bowl and enjoyed for breakfast, lunch, snack and dinner. There are many ways to enjoy peaches year round and they are one of the only fruits that taste very similar to their original version when canned. They will oxidize and turn brown as you store them so I always use a bit of lemon juice to prevent serious browning. I throw them in a bowl of water with some fresh lemon juice in it to keep them bright and peachy before processing them. They are also delicious in fruit smoothies, jam, pie, pie fillings, fruit leather and dehydrated. I know some of my friends make chutney and conserve and there are endless possibilities for storing peaches. Cue the song....."Moving to the country gonna eat me a lot of peaches......"
Blueberries are the easiest of all to put up for the winter They also need to be refrigerated to prolong their shelf life and do amazing at staying fresh for long periods of time. Give them a quick wash in cool water, then strain them and throw them in a bag to freeze. Blueberries have the highest amount of antioxidants of any food grown in the world. We are lucky to live in the NW were they are prolific and fantastic. You should enjoy them fresh in the summer and frozen all year long. I like to eat frozen blueberries in the evenings in lieu of a dessert. You can also make them into a blueberry crisp, syrup, smoothie, pancakes, jam, pie or in your oatmeal.
I know that the song, "its the most wonderful time of the year," is a Christmas song but as a farmer I really it is when all these fruits ripen and are ready to be enjoyed in the Summer. I personally invite you all to come visit orchard. Our farm is truly your farm. I want you to see where your food was grown and get to the know land and trees that shares forward its bounty with you all all Summer. Thank you, thank you, thank you to everyone who has made the conscious choice to buy directly from our farm. Your support has been so consistent and reliable and our hearts are full because of your friendship of our farm.
Last night at the Cully Market we liteally SOLD OUT of all the many fruit boxes we brought in from Mt. View Orchards and my heart was brimming over with gratitude and thanksgiving because you guys all came and made good homes for our freshly harvested, local fruit. It also makes my heart smile when I see my amazing friends coming up to the farm each and every week to purchase fruit for their households. This kind of intentional support is what every farmer dreams of. A thousand thank you's to everyone who has made our farm their own.
This is an amazing week to pack up a picnic and head to the country to enjoy our abundant harvests here at Mt. View Orchards. We have 5 picnic tables set up and I hope to see you all soon. xoxo your grateful farmer.