The final weeks of Summer, when harvests are their peak, are the ideal time to plan for the wintry months ahead and preserve fruits and vegetables.
Your “future-self” will thank you come January when your pantry is filled with jams and sauces and your freezer is stuffed with berries, corn and even dessert.
With a 20 pound case of Smallwood Farms peaches in my kitchen needing to be dealt with, I was looking for ways to preserve them beyond just slicing and freezing.
Thankfully, I remembered how my mother-in-law deals with the hundreds of pounds of apples she harvests from her yard in Upstate New York. In addition to all the applesauce and apple muffins and apple crisps, she makes apple pie filling that can easily be pulled from the freezer and slipped into a pie shell months later. The ingenious part to her method is how she freezes the pie filling.
Here’s what she does::
After mixing up the fruit, sugar, spices, etc. as you would if baking the pie that day, pour the mixture into a parchment paper lined pie plate (try not to pour too much accumulated liquid in).
Layer another sheet of parchment paper on top, secure with a rubber band and freeze (still in the pie plate) until just solid.
Remove the pie plate from the freezer and slip the frozen mass of fruit out of the pan. Wrap in additional parchment then foil or newspaper and slip into a freezer bag.
When you’re ready for a fruit pie this winter, prepare your bottom crust as you normally would and fit it into the same pie dish you originally froze your fruit filling in. Place the unwrapped frozen pie filling (no need to defrost!) into the crust and top a second crust or crumb topping. Bake according to the original recipe’s instructions. Then, thank your “summer-self” for thinking ahead!