The little birds...

If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.

Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.

Tuesday 17 November 2015

Pantries and Preparedness. Fruit season part 2.

Last week in part one I covered things I do leading up to summer knowing I usually get loads of free and very cheap fruit. Being ready means I can deal with it when it comes in and not waste any. I can use this as a big opportunity to fill up my pantry, freezer and also get ahead in gifts and even donations ready for charity fetes and food hampers.

This is getting close for us! January is the main influx and I am being positive this will be a good year!

Firstly, much fresh fruit is eaten and I would not buy any other so money is saved right there. I keep some on the counter and some in the fridge. I will also see how I can use it in the meals. Last year I used peaches on the BBQ and topped with mascarpone cheese. These were gorgeous. I cut up peaches for breakfast. I made fresh crumble and it was gorgeous. Andy still talks about it!
I made a lovely nectarine, rocket and walnut salad. Loved this! All sorts of things to use the fruit fresh in both sweet and savory ways. So healthy and good.
So this is healthy and saves on grocery money while we have this produce.

I give the girls each enough fruit for their households as well.

With what I cannot possibly use up I set to work making into things and attend to the ripest fruit first as there is only so much you can do in a day. This buys you time. Sometimes it turns out I can deal with it all in a week or more. When you are really busy even a few minutes a day can keep fruit from being wasted.

I make things that we will use fresh, things for the freezer and also gifts. But a cooked crumble or stewed fruit will last a few more days when the really ripe fruit may not.
You will have your own recipes and do look online for recipes to use up what you have. Type in salads, "ways to use up..."  and get a whole lot of inspiration! Sometimes I have had a light bulb moment on how to use something in a way I never thought of.

Here are some of my favorite recipes that I use year after year.

Use it up fruit cake.

This is beautiful! It keeps quite well for a few days. It will use up plums (pictured above), peaches, apricots, nectarines (below) ...

It is really easy to make a so good. It is a lovely gift too.  You can also serve it warm or cold.

The recipe is here.

I always make a lot of jam.  The easy microwave method is here.  This is wonderful as it is so fast and easy. No chopping fruit. Also the colour of the jam is brighter. I do about a kilo at a time (2lbs roughly). However if I have a large amount to make I will still put a pot of jam on the stove. But this means you can make small batches and it is a big help. If you have never made jam try it as this will get you going. Many bread makers also have a jam making setting and I am told it works really well!

Muffins. These freeze so well and you can pack them full of fruit. They are so handy as they can be breakfast or a snack or a desert. This recipe will use up just about anything you have on hand. It's wonderful! I will use a lot fresh in lunch boxes and give a dozen each to the girls and as gifts.

Even though it's a different subject I am going to mention reasons to make plenty of jam!
There are so many things you can make later using jam. I probably have added many things to this list now but this is a starter and do read the comments as there are more! Take a jar of jam. As well, over the season you can end up with quite a few types of jam.  A basket or box with one of each is a gorgeous gift. All the colours look lovely!

Another regular is a fruit cobbler. This is the easiest of all and you don't need pastry! This is the recipe.
The post also mentions stewed fruit which I also always make. This is summer breakfasts and some I freeze. This cobbler freezes perfectly so when it re appears in winter it is really good!

I make a lot of crumbles and pies. I have no recipe. The pies i just line a pie dish and fill with whatever fruit I have (uncooked) and add a little sugar. Taste to see if you think it's the right sweetness. Top and decorate. Usually bake around an hour, watch to see its nice and golden.
Pies freeze well also. Pies make lovely gifts!

Crumbles (crisps). I just grease a dish and fill with fruit. Add a tiny amount of sugar. In a bowl I melt some butter and add brown sugar and maybe half a cup of flour plus... crushed nuts and or crumbed cereal, oats or any crumb I have saved up or left over. Crushed nuts are really good and you only need a tablespoon or so. Mix together and taste it! Add or alter until it is delicious! Crumble this over your fruit. I like a good thick layer. Bake until golden and bubbly. This is heavenly! Crumbles also freeze.

This year I will be filling the crock pot with fruit and stewing it down to make baby food. I will take these around to Lucy after they are frozen in ice cube trays and emptied into containers. Stewed fruits pureed also make good ice blocks/icy poles for children.

Hopefully I will also find new recipes this year. HOPEFULLY i will get lots of fruit!
This is my strategy as we have abundant fruit here and so many people let it fall to the ground that by asking I have a lot of people that let me pick it. It really adds hundreds of dollars to my food budget and is just amazing.
But whatever comes your way make the most of it. And if you know this is a regular event plan ahead so you are ready. Anything fresh has a window of opportunity and if you leave it and time gets away from you the chance is lost. I would stay up all night working rather than waste it!

Next week we have a post by Teri and the subject is using foods that you have preserved. Being able to go to the pantry and put to use things you have previously canned, dried and so on.  I find all year I am able to use the jam I made in summer as there are so many uses for it. I love this!

I hope you are having a good week! With love. xxx


  1. Dear Annabel, once again, thankyou for this! I've always tried to make the most of an overabundance of fruit, be it home grown, gifted or purchased at seasonal bargain prices. You have helped me elevate my thinking to a whole new level. I used to poach, stew, make into jam and sun dry fruits. Thinking beyond that to using those things to make into crumbles and pies to freeze and eat or to gift, is one step further again! Armed with that thought, buying 20 kilos of plums at 99c a kilo, and using that produce to make yummy things to freeze is sheer genius. I can already see filo triangles to dust with icing sugar and serve with thick greek yoghurt, fruity spring rolls (you must try these...delicious!), little jam tarts with home made peach and passionfruit jam, crepe stacks sandwiched with jam and cream, moist and delicate nectarine imagination is running riot! Fruit leather is another great one if you have children, bushwalkers, or camping lovers in the family too. And it uses a LOT of fruit. Not so clever if you're buying the fruit, but if it's home grown and free, and you have to use it up quickly, it's a godsend! Wonderful post. Love Mimi xxx

  2. Annabel this is a brilliant post . It really makes me want to come to your house and eat lol The pictures look so gorgeous, Im going back through your recipes for the jam, muffins, cakes and so on and when i get the rest of my supplies sorted ill be in the kitchen having fun. I only need the fruit so hopefully very soon. Thankyou xoxo

    1. Thanks so much Karen. You would be welcome at my place for afternoon tea anytime!
      I hope you end up with plenty of fruit. It is an amazing opportunity to get ahead in all sorts of ways! xxx

  3. I am cooking up a storm at the moment with apricots from Mums tree. The birds are eating them and fruit fly get into them if they are left to ripen on the tree. I have been stewing heaps and putting them in the freezer for later. I have also made apricot and vanilla jam and apricot chutney these will go in some Christmas hampers and the rest in the pantry. I had better get off here and cut up some more as it is going to be a scorcher here the next few days ( 40c+) so I won't be cooking much.
    Have a great week Annabel
    Debbie xx

    1. You have apricots already!? ohh... well I am glad you do! Apricot chutney sounds beautiful. Good gifts.
      Many people say the birds get their fruit. I always think why dont they pick it, like you have? When the birds are liking it then it is usually ripe enough to keep ripening inside quite well. It ripens amazingly even sometimes when I have thought they are too green to ever ripen.
      Has been hot here although not 40... about 37 today. Thats hot enough. Years ago we had a heat wave of 43 and 44 for ten days straight. Then a few years ago we had 46. BLAH. Also it is windy here today so overall its pretty gross! lol
      Keep cooking.... even you do the microwave way as it doesnt heat the kitchen up so much. With love,

  4. Annabel, here in Qld the fruit fly gets into the peaches and apricots so it is a losing battle trying to grow them unless they are sprayed and covered from the birds. We do have plenty of other fruit though that isn't so prone to fruit fly like tamarillos, jaboticaba, heaps of different varieties of berries at present, grapes are coming on now and we have an avocado tree or two. That keeps us in fruit for a few months. The fruit fly is a bit of a pain to deal with but that's life in Queensland. :-) Your recipes always look so very yummy and make me want to start eating sugar again. LOL!

    1. Nanna Chel that would be awful. I'm glad you have other fruits. I don't know if mangoes get ff? Helen gets a lot of mangoes and avocado. I would be pretty happy with those though? I guess its about making the most of what we do get, vegies included, and adding to our pantries and freezers etc that way. I would dream of getting avocados!
      We never have a soft drink or takeaway so I see some homemade deserts as a better option than those and way less bad stuff. Good old fashioned cooking is my motto I guess. And real food ie not weird chemicals and numbers, I hate that! Oh and weirded chemically created fats... It's a nightmare. Can be difficult.
      Berries are a wonderful thing too and freeze so well I love all kinds of berries very much!
      With thanks,

  5. Hi Annabel,
    I was thinking of you last week when I had a half day of work for sanity :) lo and behold passing the fruit mini mart the called out boxes of cherries one per person for $5.00, I thought he said $25.00 which would be 5 per kilo so thinking that was reasonable I asked him to show me inide the box they looked okay so I said how much did you say when he said 5.00 I couldn't get my money out quick enough well then home to start pitting appox 3 kgs and freezing on trays then bagging, stewing about 1/2 kg then the rest were eaten fresh and the final 500gm used on a pretty plate for High Tea for my Mum and Brothers on Sunday.-such a luxury and the first for the season are oh so special. I said to my daughter driving home with my bargain - Annabel would be so excited by this - see you transcend the state boundaries with all the people who are influenced and in awe of you. thanks again for inspiring us.
    Cheers, bev

    1. Dear Bev, Wow what a bargain! You are right I would have been cheering. I have seen the first cherries here and I love cherries. I think they are about $15 a kilo.... as you say $5 a kilo would have been a bargain and it was $5 the box! Very happy for you!
      I made cherry jam a couple of years ago. It was just beautiful and the colour very pretty.
      Your high tea sounds just lovely I wish I was there! Thank you for telling me this I enjoyed it very much! With love,

  6. Another inspiring post. I feel the same way you do about fruit! So much to do with it and I love your ideas. We especially love the crisps in our home and we can never have enough jam!

    P.S. I do have a question for you. I notice your jars of jam are just covered in plastic. Are these shelf stable? In the U.S., everything gets water bathed with heated lids and sealed but I noticed that many European and Australian ladies do things a bit differently. I would love to know your jam preservation methods.

    1. Dear Jes,
      I top jam with a cellophane square and a rubber band.mif I have. a lid then I will put that on over the cellophane. Once set and in sterilised jars jam keeps at least a couple of years. I can't say beyond that as it's always used up by then. however if jam doesn't set for some reason and it happens now and then I will keep it in the fridge and use that first ie on pancakes.
      One thing is we don't live in a humid climate so I wonder if that is a factor? but this is how I learned to make jam and how Nan did it etc and seems like the norm here. I have seen people that seal jars with wax but I have never done that. I hope this helps! with love,

    2. Thanks for sharing this! :)

  7. Dear Annabel,

    As always, your post is most helpful and the food looks absolutely delicious!!

    Your jam preservation methods are very interesting and I am so glad Jes asked that question. I have always water bathed our preserves and jams, but I really don't like the fact they do get more watery it seems. We live at a high altitude, so have to water bath longer than those at lower elevations.

    My husband's grandmother always just used paraffin wax to seal her jams, as did my great aunt. I think I will try your way to see how it works for us.

    Thank you for all your hard work, time, and effort on these wonderful posts. It is greatly appreciated.

    Love and hugs,

  8. Annabel,
    It all looks so delicious! I think whoever gets one of your hampers is a very lucky person. Now can I ask are you making any juices or juice combinations when you get and abundance? It makes for a very tasty flavored tea.

  9. Thanks for more inspiration! I have lived at high elevation in Colorado and never had to alter my jam making. Also you can save money by using wax to seal jars with jams and jellies. If you store your jams where they could be exposed to mice or moisture, I recommend that you use an old lid over the wax (even one that has the seal broken because the wax is doing the sealing).
    Right now it is still apple season in the states. If you are canning wind-falls or bruised apples DO NOT water bath them. Bacteria has been introduced and will interfere with the seal. Take the time to pressure can those babies and you will have applesauce, etc till next summer.
    Also stock-up before canning season on lids and rings. Many stores in my area tend to run low or even out during the season.

  10. Dear Annabel, Thank you for all these helpful ideas and recipes. We have an orange tree on our property that usually produces loads of oranges. Unfortunately they are too sour to eat by themselves, but last year I managed to make around fifteen jars of marmalade that turned out great. We had SO many oranges that I ended up juicing most of them, freezing the juice in ice cube trays, and storing the cubes in three gallon-size plastic bags. With that, I can flavor tea and use in cakes and cookies.
    I'm also glad JES asked about the cellophane on your jars, as I have noticed this too. I may have to look for some different types of canning books. It's very humid where I'm at, so I'd probably be too afraid to try it, but it would be good to learn other safe methods for just-in-case, or if I ever end up where it isn't humid.
    So this isn't exactly a fruit, but along the lines of preservation, it is sweet potato season here and our grocery store is running a sale on them- five pounds for a dollar. That's cheap! I'm planning on stocking up on these and cooking/mashing them, dehydrating them, then grinding them into powder for instant potatoes. I've never done it, so we'll see how that goes.
    Thanks again for all the ideas, Annabel. I'll be sure to come back to this post when our summer rolls around! --Kelsey

  11. Your cakes look lovely and delicious! I'm envious that you're coming into fruit season soon. It's growing colder here and my only fresh, growing things are celery and onions and cilantro in pots by the windows/doors. I'm doing more baking to combat the chill but not with fresh goodies.


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