Reviving Frozen Fruit

There is summer and late summer fruit in my freezer that I thought I would have consumed long before now. I remember buying blueberries, cherries, and even cranberries in season, hoping to put a taste of warmer weather into a winter meal or dessert. Instead, I have containers full of fruit lingering in the deep freeze for about 6 to 9 months, certainly not ages but long enough that it points out the gaping chasm between summer’s intent and winter’s lack of follow through.

If stored properly, fruit – washed, dried, pitted if necessary – should keep in the freezer for up to a year without losing much of its flavor. You can cook and bake with it just as you would with fresh and detect only a slight difference in texture and flavor. To return a little freshness to the fruit and the dish I plan to make with it, I add grated lemon zest for brightness and some of the same fruit in its dried form for a punch of concentrated sweetness. Simple fix, so delicious. Here’s how.

Dark Cherry Cobbler

  • 2 pounds pitted sweet cherries, frozen and unthawed
  • 1 cup dried tart cherries
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3 Tbsp. cornstarch
  •  3 Tbsp. cold water
  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. mace (or nutmeg) optional
  • grated zest of 1/2 lemon
  • 1 stick cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup cold milk plus an additional 1 1/2 Tbsp.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place the cherries, dried cherries, 1/2 c. sugar, vanilla, lemon zest from 1 lemon, and 1/8 tsp. salt to a large saucepan.

Place the pan over medium heat and heat the cherry mixture while stirring often. Let the cherries release their juice as the sugar melts. This will take about 3 to 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, mix the cornstarch with the cold water in a small bowl. Add this to the cherry mixture while stirring.  Continue to stir once the cornstarch slurry has been incorporated and bring the cherry mixture to a boil. Stir frequently to prevent scorching. Once the mixture reaches a boil, remove it from the heat. Pour this into a large ceramic baking dish and set aside.

To make the cobbler dough, add the flour, 1 Tbsp. sugar, baking powder, 1/2 tsp. salt, mace and lemon zest from 1/2 lemon to the bowl of a food processor fitted with the chopping blade.

Pulse two or three times to combine.

Add to the flour mixture the butter cubes. Process until the butter pieces are cut into the flour and the mixture resembles coarse meal. With the motor running, add the cold milk into the flour mixture through the feed tube. Process just until the dough begins to hold together in a rough ball.

Using a tablespoon from your flatware set, scoop up mounds of dough from the work bowl and drop these  over the top of the fruit in the baking dish, spacing the mounds evenly. This will make about 12 or 13 cobbler biscuits.

Bake in the preheated oven for about 25 to 35 minutes, or until the biscuits are deep golden brown and the fruit is bubbling hot and tastes of Shiraz wine and spice. Serve warm with a scoop of ice cream or whipped cream and enjoy a little summer in winter.

©2012  Jane A. Ward