Enjoy the Fruits of Summer

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Every season has its own wonderful fruits and vegetables, but summer has the very best and a multitude of choices. Summer fruit is a wonderful snack, just eaten out of hand. Be sure to have a bowl of washed, chilled fruit in the refrigerator for warm weather snack attacks.

Beyond fresh
Fresh fruit is enjoyed the most when eaten at the peak of ripeness. Fruit that has gotten a little bit too ripe is very useful, if not for snacking, then as an ingredient. One of the best things to do with ripe fruit is to prepare a sauce called coulis. A coulis is nothing more than a fruit or vegetable puree that has been sweetened or seasoned. A coulis is beautiful in color, wonderful in flavor and contains little or no fat or sodium. Here are some tips on making coulis:

• Puree berries with cantaloupe or peaches.
• Use Splenda® brand sweetener, honey or maple syrup for added sweetness.
• If you’d like to make your coulis creamy, puree a small amount of banana with the berries.
• Use coulis as a sauce for fresh fruit salads, sorbets, or fruit ice, as a dipping sauce for grapes or other berries, or as the start of a great fruit smoothie.
• You can freeze your coulis and make your own fruit ice.
• You can also stir coulis into orange juice for a fun breakfast beverage.

Saving summer fruit
You may want to dry some summer fruit to use later in the year. Drying fruit can be done easily with an oven or a fruit dehydrator. Fruit for drying should be ripe or very ripe, so you get a sweet product. To dry in the oven, you’ll need a gas oven with a pilot or an electric oven that you can set to 175 degrees for drying. Wash fruit and pat dry; slice as thin as possible and place, single file, on baking sheets. Allow to dry in the oven until all the moisture has evaporated. Store in airtight, covered containers. Peaches, apricots and plums hold their color and shape nicely. Grapes and berries don’t look very pretty when they are dry, but they taste great.

Juice for now and later
Any type of ripe fruit makes a good juice. Use a blender or a juicer and create your own combinations, like strawberry-banana, honeydew-peach or apricot-plum juice.
• Wash fruit well and remove pits or seeds before placing in blender.
• Fresh juice will last about two days in the refrigerator or about one month in the freezer.
• Use fresh juice as an ingredient in salad dressings. Replace up to 25% of the liquid in a baked goods recipe with fresh juice for added nutrients and flavor.
• Make a smoothie with 1/2 cup light nonfat, yogurt, 1/2 cup frozen fruit and 1 cup fruit juice.
• Make ice cubes and popsicles with your fresh fruit juice.
• Flavor iced teas with fresh fruit juice.

Freeze it for a Quick Treat

Do you want to know what to do with that extra summer fruit? Freeze it into desserts! Here's how:

• Melons: Peel and seed overripe melons, such as honeydew, casaba or cantaloupe. Puree in a blender or food processor, flavor with orange juice, and freeze in ice cube trays or serving size containers. Break up the fruit ice so it has a coarse texture and serve.
• Berries: Select overripe (but not moldy!) berries, such as strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and blueberries; puree in a blender. For a creamy mixture, add a small amount of silken tofu or low-fat yogurt. If you need a bit of sweetness, add a dash of maple syrup, orange juice concentrate or peach nectar. You can eat the frozen version like sherbet or allow it to thaw and use as a colorful, nutritious sauce for slices of angel food cake.
• Peaches or apricots: For a bit of decadence, melt a half cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the microwave (one minute on high, stir, thirty seconds on high). Slice just-ripe peaches or apricots lengthwise. Dip one end of each slice into the melted chocolate and place on a small nonstick baking dish or plastic tray. Place in the freezer. Serve partially frozen.
• Grapes: Wash seedless grapes and pat dry. Place them in the freezer and allow them to chill until hard. You can then stack them in an air-tight container.
By Nancy Berkoff, RD, EdD

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