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Archive for Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Get the full scoop on freezing fresh fruit

July 2, 2008

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Q: We are getting an abundance of cherries off our trees this year. What's the best way to freeze them?

A: Lucky you! To freeze, wash and stem the cherries. Pit if desired. (I would certainly recommend pitting now - you'll be happy you did when you pull them out of the freezer later on.)

If pitted, immediately place the cherries into cold water containing 1 teaspoon of powdered ascorbic acid or six 500-milligram vitamin C tablets per gallon to prevent discoloration. Be sure to crush the vitamin C tablets. If they are preserved unpitted, prick the skins on the opposite sides with a clean needle to prevent splitting.

If freezing without sweetening, spread a single layer of fruit on shallow trays and freeze. When frozen, package promptly and return to freezer. This pack allows portions to be used when needed.

Unsweetened fruit may also be packed in water, unsweetened juice, or pectin syrup. (To make pectin syrup, dissolve 1 package powdered pectin in 1 cup water, heat to boiling, and boil for 1 minute. Add 1 3/4 cup water and cool.) To keep the fruit under liquid, follow directions for syrup pack.

To make a syrup pack: Mix and dissolve 2 1/2 cups of sugar in 4 cups of water for sour cherries; or mix 1 1/4 cups of sugar in 4 cups of water for sweet cherries. Add 1 cup of syrup to each quart of prepared cherries. To keep fruit under syrup, place a small crumpled piece of plastic or freezer wrap on top and press fruit down into syrup before sealing the container.

For a sugar pack: Mix 2/3 cup of dry sugar per quart of sour cherries; or 1/3 cup of sugar per quart of sweet cherries.

Sugar substitutes can be used in any of the unsweetened or dry packs or they can be added to the fruits before serving. However, sugar substitutes do not offer the beneficial effects of sugar (color protection and thickness of syrup).

To package, fill pint- or quart-freezer bags to a level of 3 to 4 inches from the tops.

Squeeze out the air, leave 1-inch head space, seal, label, and freeze.

Q:My grandmother used to make a dessert using sour cherries called Cherry Carnival. Have you ever heard of it?

A: Actually, Wanda Slagle from Manhattan shared it in the cookbook, "A Kansas Compote," compiled by the Kansas Fruit Growers Association. Hope it brings back cherished memories!

Cherry Carnival

1 3/4 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 cup margarine

3/4 cup sugar

1 large egg

3/4 cup milk

2 cups sour cherries, pitted, well drained

Sift flour, baking powder, and salt together into bowl. Add margarine, sugar, egg, and milk. Beat until smooth. Blend in 2 cups cherries. Pour into greased and floured 9-inch square pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 40 minutes. Cut into 3-inch squares. Serve with hot Clear

Red Sauce for Cherry Carnival. Serves 9.

Clear Red Sauce for Cherry Carnival

1/2 cup sugar

2 Tablespoons cornstarch

1 cup boiling water

3/4 cup cherry juice

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

red food coloring, if desired

Mix sugar and cornstarch together in sauce pan. Gradually stir in the boiling water and juice. Boil one minute and add almond extract and food coloring. Keep hot and serve over squares of Cherry Carnival.

- Susan Krumm is an Extension agent in family and consumer sciences with K-State Research and Extension-Douglas County, 2110 Harper St. She can be reached at 843-7058.

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