By Cat, Jan 2008 (Photo, right, from Wikimedia Commons)
When you I’ve in a northern climate where fresh fruit is just not available during the long winter season, dehydrating the fruit after harvest turns out to be a flavor and nutrition lifesaver when the cold weather arrives. Most fruits such as apples, pears, peaches, apricots, and plums are a great snack when dried, and make a wonderful treat when reconstituted by stewing. See The EssentiaList: Canning & Dehydrating Panel Discussion, from a gathering of our local sustainability group, Essential Stuff Project (for which I am the editor of our website).
Stewed dried apricots is one of my favorite comfort foods from my childhood, so when I decided to roast a Danish-style pork tenderloin (like Mom used to make) for New Years Day, I pulled out a bag of the dried fruit.
Stewing dried fruit
Most recipes recommend soaking the dried fruit first, before stewing, and I do think this is a good idea. If you’re in a pinch, you might stew them without soaking, but it will take longer for them to stew to tender. Some recipes call for added sugar, but I think dried fruit is plenty sweet. Not all fruits take the same time to stew, but apricots, peaches, prunes (plums) and cherries should all take about the same amount of time. Apples take less time, so add them later, if using.
Resources for Information
- Desserts and Salads, by Gesine Lemcke is an excellent resource, originally published in 1911. It is now available for free on google books (1). Scroll down to ‘Contents;’ for the various stewed fruit recipes, select ‘Pound Sweets, Page 173’. then scroll down to the stewed dried fruits on pages 175 – 176: Apples, Peaches, Apricots, Pears and Prunes.
- Stewed Dried Apricots, from Love To Know Recipes (2)
- Stewed Fruit in the Slow Cooker, from Southern Food (3)
- Stewed Dried Fruit with Ginger, from Chefs.com (4)
Stewed Dried Fruit
This recipe serves 4 or more. I don’t add the sugar, as I think dried fruits are sweet enough, but I include it as an optional item. I do recommend adding the lemon juice and/or zest.
Ingredients & Equipment:
- 1 pound dried fruit
- ~ ¼ tsp ginger, stick cinnamon or other spices (optional)
- ~ 1 Tbsp Rapadura sugar, or maple syrup (optional)
- Unrefined sea salt
- ~ 2 – 3 tsp lemon juice (optional)
- zest of one lemon (optional)
- sweet wine such as port or claret (optional)
- saucepan or slow cooker
- simmer plate (optional)
- Wash dried fruit well, then soak in clean, cold, filtered water to cover, for at least 2 hours, in a saucepan.
- You may wish to add lemon juice, lemon zest, wine and/or spices after soaking but before heating.
- Transfer saucepan to medium heat and bring the water slowly to a near boil. Reduce heat to as low a setting as possible and stew until done, about 2 hours for most fruits or 1 hour for apples. A simmer plate is recommended.
- If fruit is too sour, try adding a few grains of unrefined sea salt and allowing it to dissolve, rather than adding sugar. A bit of lemon juice may also help.
- Wash and soak as for stove-top method.
- Put all desired ingredients into the pot, with enough water to cover. Turn cooker on to low setting and allow to stew for 6 – 8 hours.
- Desserts and Salads, by Gesine Lemcke, originally published in 1911, now available on Google Books: books.google.com/books/about/Desserts_and_Salads.html?id=KBcEAAAAYAAJ
- Love To Know Recipes: Stewed Dried Apricots (recipes.lovetoknow.com/wiki/Stewed_Dried_Apricots_Recipe)
- Southern Food recipe Stewed Fruit in the Slow Cooker (southernfood.about.com/od/crockpotdessertrecipes/r/bl45c7.htm)
- Chefs.com recipe: Stewed Dried Fruit with Ginger (chefs.com/RecipeDetails.aspx?RecipeID=3033&recipeTitle=Stewed+Dried+Fruit+with+Ginger)