Though the fruits are starting to roll in at nation-wide farmer's markets, it's still early enough in many places that an unripe peach or too-tart apple might make its way into the mix.
If you find yourself with such a fruit, don't throw it away: cook it! Here's how...
While cooking doesn't magically cause unripe fruit to ripen, it does do three things:
1. It enhances sweet and sour flavors in the fruit.
2. It decreases bitterness and astringency (that "fuzzy" flavor).
3. It softens the fruit and makes it edible.
Our favorite way to cook these fruits is by poaching. This simply means covering your fruit with liquid and simmering until the fruit is soft.
Stone fruits and those with a core of seeds are the best for poaching. Pears, peaches, apples, and even plums do well.
Any liquid--even water--can be used as a poaching liquid. For extra flavor, we like to use wine, beer, or a simple syrup (pre-made). You can also infuse the poaching liquid with other spices before adding the fruit. Cinnamon sticks, cloves, and ginger all make particularly good mulling spices.
How To Poach Fruit
Cut the fruit in half and remove the stone or core. If desired, peel your fruit before cutting it. (The skin on apples and peaches will also loosen during cooking and can be discarded later.)
In a sauce pan big enough to hold your fruit, bring your poaching liquid to a boil, adding any extra spices. Use enough poaching liquid to cover your fruit.
Reduce the liquid to a simmer and add your fruit. Poach until the fruit is soft and can be easily poked with a skewer. Cooking time will be any where from 10 minutes to 45 minutes, depending on how ripe your fruit was to begin with.
This fruit can be eaten right away or you can refrigerate it in the poaching liquid overnight. The fruit will continue to absorb the flavors of the poaching liquid, and the flavors will be more intense the longer it sits.
What is your favorite method for poaching fruit?
Related: Two for One: Poached Pears and Red Wine Syrup
(Image: Emma Christensen for the Kitchn)