Whether you use a food processor, a blender, a strainer or a food mill, pureeing fruit at home give you lots of cooking options. Making your own wholesome puree for smoothies and for fruit sauces allows you to limit the salt and sugar in commercial blends while saving money at the same time. Or, your plum tree might be overflowing with fruit and you don't want to waste a bit of that healthy product. The process for pureeing fresh fruit is foolproof.
Which Fruit to Use
For soft fruits that you can puree raw, choose the ripest specimens at the store or let the fruit ripen at home. Choose bananas that have turned completely yellow with a few brown spots for puree that is high in potassium. Ripe peaches, high in beta-carotene and potassium, also puree well without cooking. Let frozen fruit thaw before pureeing, and drain excess liquid from fruits like blueberries, a fruit high in antioxidants. You can puree dried fruit, like high-fiber prunes or apricots with lots of beta-carotene, but you need to stew them first.
Preparing the Fruit
Washing the fruit should always be the first step in whatever fruit you puree. Then, after peeling, cut the fruit into large chunks for the blender or food processor and into smaller pieces for a food mill or strainer. Dried fruits and firm fruits, like apples, need to be simmered in water for 15 to 20 minutes until they are soft enough to puree. Drain the stewing water before pureeing.
To gain the two things you want in a fruit puree, a smooth, thick consistency and lots of flavor, use as little liquid as possible while pureeing. The more liquid you add, either water, milk or fruit juice, the more diluted the flavor of the puree will be. Some fruit juices have lots of added sugar, so water may be a more healthy choice. Sometimes the drops of water clinging to the fruit after washing are all the water you need. Soft fruits, like strawberries, bananas or raspberries won't need any liquid at all.
Purees are not jams or jellies, so you need only enough sugar to remove overly tart flavors. With very ripe, homegrown strawberries, you may only need a tablespoon or two of sugar. But for store-bought, less flavorful strawberries and other tart fruit, you may need about 1/4 cup of sugar for each 2 cups of berries or other fruit. Most canned fruits already contain added sugar, so avoid adding any more sweetener to those.
Uses For Puree
Pureed fruit straight from the blender works as a topping for ice cream or stirred into your morning bowl of granola or oatmeal. Use a strainer to remove seeds from raspberry or blackberry puree, and serve the puree over plain Greek yogurt or angel food cake for a healthy dessert. Substitute all or some of the fat in baked goods with pureed prunes, apricots or apples, to increase levels of fiber and decrease fat and calories – use 1/4 cup of puree for each 1/2 cup of butter. Or, turn plum puree into a barbecue sauce for pork by adding ketchup, brown sugar, chili powder, minced garlic and Worcestershire sauce.
Susan Lundman began writing about her love of cooking, ingredient choices, menu planning and healthy eating after working for 20 years on children's issues at a nonprofit organization. She has written about food online professionally for ten years on numerous websites, and has provided family and friends with homemade recipes and stories about culinary adventures. Lundman received her M.A. from Stanford University.