I love fruit! Fruit is especially delicious when it is fresh picked. And I love picking fresh fruit with my beautiful kids. They have such excitement discovering the fruit, how it grows, how to harvest it, and how delicious it tastes.
When I pick fruit fresh from the tree, vine, bush, etc. and eat it right where I picked it, I can taste the life energy in every juicy bite. Fruit enjoyed this way is so rich, full flavored, and life giving.
There are places in this world, where fruits and vegetables ripen year around, and folks can gather what they need each day. But most of the world deals with long seasons when vine ripened fruit and fresh picked vegetables are not available.
Even fruits and vegetables in the groceries stores are not fresh or local. They have most likely traveled thousands of miles, and have spent time in various warehouses, trucks, ship yards, etc. They were likely picked weeks before they were ripe, and they are likely modified in some way to last this long in transport without spoiling. For example, apples are picked and then stored in gas warehouses for months before they are sent to market. Of course the government says these modified foods are safe to eat, but do you really want to eat apples that have been stored for months in a building full of gas to keep them from spoiling?
Historically humans didn’t have gas filled warehouses, and a transport system to stock a grocery store across the world, let alone a store just up the road. I recently learned that grocery stores with fresh and frozen foods really did not appear until the late 1940’s and 1950’s in most of the USA. Part of the reason being, that technology for home refrigeration, and small scale commercial refrigeration was not yet available or affordable until the 1920’s, electricity was not yet available to everyone in the urban setting until the 1930’s, and only 10% of those in the rural setting had electricity. The first modern self serve grocery store with shelf stable boxed and canned foods, opened in Tennessee in 1916, and quickly opened franchises in rural towns across the USA. They became recognized in Time Magazine in 1929 and many across the country began trying to bring the concept of a modern self serve grocery store to their state and towns. But it would be many years yet before they could refrigerate or keep frozen meats, and fruits and Veggies. Rather you still needed to visit the meat man up the road who kept the meats in a smoke house, or frozen with large blocks of ice cut from the frozen rivers and lakes.
So how did folks get supplies and fresh fruit prior to the grocery store? Prior to grocery stores, folks were only able to get a few dried staples for the pantry from a small general store in town that sold hardware, ammo, fabric, and other dry goods needed on the homestead. But everything fresh like fruit, vegetables, meats, eggs, milk, etc. came from their own gardens, local butcher, or local milk man, or local growers (vineyard, orchards, farms) in their neighborhood community when it was in season. If they or their local vender had an icebox for cold storage, it was cooled with a block of ice that had been cut from the frozen lakes and rivers near by in the winter. They learned to deal with limited seasonablity by either going without and only eating it in season, or by preserving it to use later.
Here is a basic list of approximate harvest dates for fruits in Indiana, but depending on variety (wild, domesticated, special variety), and the weather, the harvest season could vary by two weeks early or two weeks later than posted below.
Apples September 1 – October 25
Blackberries July 15 – July 30
Blueberries July 5 – August 10
Cherries June 10 – June 25
Elderberries August 10 – September 20
Grapes September 10 – September 20
Paw Paws August 10 – October 15
Peaches, Nectarines July 20 – September 1
Pears August 10 – August 31
Persimmons Late September-early October
Plums Late July – August
Red Raspberries July 15 – August 15
Black Rasperries June
Strawberries June 1 – June 15
The benefit of freezing fruit, instead of canning it, is that it preserves most of the nutrients in the fruit. When fruit is subjected to the high heat of canning, the enzymes are killed, proteins are changed, and a lot of the nutrition is lost. But if frozen, they can be served later by thawing and eating, gently heating, or by blending frozen into smoothy or ice cream treats. When fresh or frozen fruit is heated gently, many of the living nutrients like enzymes and vitamins are still available to your body. But these nutrients are heat sensitive and will be destroyed or altered if heated under high temperatures.
So I often make my fruit preserves or conserves right when I need them or the day before. Lately, in the face of one more subzero frozen day, when winter seems to never end in January in central Indiana, I have been craving the summer harvest. So I pulled several fruits from the freezer to make different dishes with. I will post a story soon how I used frozen peaches this week. But today I am excited to share a Berry Persimmon Compote Preserve that I made.
This was my first year to harvest and freeze persimmons on our homestead. I had seen them in the stores before, but never on the tree and I was really excited this fall when friends on facebook answered my inquiry about what kind of tree and fruit was on my driveway, that it was indeed persimmons. Yeah!
I wanted a fruit spread that I could use this week for homemade bread, waffles, and to stir into my tea for flavor. Rummaging through the freezer, this combo seemed to stand out as one to try. This recipe makes enough for one person to use for several meals or snacks, or if serving a large family like mine with lots of kids, you might only have enough for one meal depending on how much they eat.
Berry Persimmon Compote Preserves:
I was so excited about this butter as my mind raced thinking about all the delicious foods I could make with it. However, as I opened the package, I realized it was not butter, but CHEESECAKE. Oh my, I was even more excited! So I topped the cheesecake with the fruit compote preserves and it was a match made in heaven!