Fruit Preserves, No Sugar Required

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?


Food Preservation

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.  

Preserving fruit (or any food) can mean variety of things.  I might be put into a cellar for cold storage, dried, powdered, frozen, cured, smoked, mixed with sugar, mixed with spices, etc. to prevent it from spoiling.  In recent human history, since the 1800’s, we also learned to can fruit and other foods to extend the availability of to the food, and the sweet flavor in regards to fruits, however, canned fruit (food) does not contain the same enzyme or protein structures and nutrients of the other historical forms of food preservation. Minerals and fiber in canned food are similar to their fresh stage, but high heat can cause the breakdown of fiber too, and many of the minerals are dissolved into the canning liquid.  So if you pour off the liquid, you likely are pouring off the minerals too.  It is wise not to make canned food the majority of ones diet.  If you do use canned food, it is best to use foods preserved in glass rather than metal cans whenever possible.  Metal cans, and the coating within, can break down and leach potential toxins and metals into food, especially acidic food like fruits, including tomatoes, over time. 

Indiana Harvest

Here in the midwest in central Indiana, fruit has a very limited harvest season. Typically, whether it is wild fruit, or domesticated fruit, any variety has about one month or even a few weeks of harvest is about all you can expect from a local fruit.  Locally grown fruits in Indiana typically include strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, cherries, elderberries, mulberries, plums, apples, paw paws, pears, peaches, persimmons, and grapes.

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               

When I harvest fresh fruit on the homestead or at a local orchard, we usually eat fresh what we are able to, and then I typically freeze some so it does not spoil.  Sometimes I will can fruit preserves, fruit butters, tomato sauce, and green beans in glass jars for convenience and gifts.  But honestly canning the fruit is not the best option, so I try to only can enough to give as gifts, and to use occasionally.  

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.


Compote, preserves, and spreads contain rich deep tones of the fruit it is made from. Fruit compote is basically fruit preserves, or fruit jam, but the fruit is left whole instead of cut up, crushed, or pureed. It still vaguely resembles the original fruit.  Making traditional fruit compote preserves involves basically using whole fruit, or dried fruit, that is cooked in water, sugar, and flavored with extracts or spices. However, I believe that if you combine fruits that are tart and sweet, you really don’t need the added sugar, and you are able to make a delicious treat that is healthy for the body. And if you reduce or eliminate the water, and heat very gently until much of the moisture is evaporated and the fruit is tender, you have maintained much of the integrity and nutrient value with in the fruit itself.

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.

Fruit Preserves, No Sugar Required

Berry Persimmon Compote Preserves:

2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries
1 cup frozen or fresh strawberries
1 frozen or fresh persimmon without seeds (I mashed this as it is hard to remove the seeds from a thawed persimmon otherwise.  This was the sweetener and thickener for the dish, so it was fine to mash it).
1/4 cup water (more or less depending on what you desire).

Heat gently over low heat, stirring occassionally, until almost all of the liquid is evaporated and a thick consistency is achieved. Remove from heat.  It will continue to thiken as it cools, serve warm or cold.  You can use this as a topping for deserts, snacks, meats, as a side, or use it in place of jam.  I also enjoy using the stained sauce from it to stir into tea and flavor drinks.

Sweet Blessings

I was all set to use these preserves on waffles and homemade bread for breakfast this week, when our pastor stopped by with some wonderful food.  He picks up restaurant leftovers that otherwise would be thrown away then distributes the frozen leftovers to families in need.  He has helped thousands of people through this wonderful ministry over the past few years.  

I hope to post a story soon about this ministry. If you would like to see some of the meals I have made, stop in to my Instagram page and check out the pictures with hashtag #pfwcleftovers. The pictures represent a combination of foods that I was given mixed with foods I had on hand. Sometimes I use what was given in its original form, and sometimes I use it as an ingredient to make something completely different.  It is exciting for the kids and I to sort through the box and see what is in there when it arrives.

As I sorted through the recent box, there was a package of something round and creamy looking.  At first I thought it was a big ball of butter. It looked similar to butter when I make it homemade. 

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!

My kids were so excited about this awesome cheesecake.  It quickly dissapeared, and became a fond memory.  But I ate mine slowly and savored every bite.

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Raising Homemakers
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